It all started when I downsized my living space when I moved to downtown Seattle in 2014 and into a 480 sq foot apartment. I got rid of the excess and only kept what I really needed to live, like a bed, a couch, a desk to work from, and all the bathroom, kitchen, and clothing essentials. I even downsized decorations so that I wasn’t moving things around all the time to clean and dust.
The freedom of owning less and living more simply in a minimalist life was thrilling. I had this feeling of abundance and peace that I don’t think I had ever felt before.
Gone were the days of Amazon packages showing up at my door on a daily basis – I mean where would I put the stuff?
It was so freeing.
I loved the smallness of the space and how simple it was.
At the time, I had no idea that I could go even smaller with my downsizing and minimalist lifestyle.
I realize the thought of downsizing so much can be challenging to our minds, but once you start – it becomes addictive because you start to live without the clutter that causes stress and anxiety and sometimes even more money to maintain.
I began to shift my focus from acquiring things to focusing on relationships, self care, exploring lands, and enjoying the beauty around me.
My mind began to get clearer as if the physical stuff had been taking up space in my head.
Living as a Nomad
The clutter was replaced with moments. With stories. Stories of traveling. Stories of people I met on the road. Stories of hiking, biking, motorcycling, whale watching, and so much more.
I got off the hamster wheel of buying stuff and instead traded it in for living in a van that’s 20 feet long and about 80 sq feet. This van is my mode of travel.
It’s the only thing I own in this world along with the contents inside. It feels good to me knowing that my little van, my home on wheels, allows me to shift my focus to creating more stories.
This may seem like extreme minimalism to some, but you don’t have to go this extreme. This is how I chose to declutter, downsize, and live a happier life. You can start to downsize and declutter in your own space now. What are you hanging on to that doesn’t serve you or add any value to your life. Even more important, what are you keeping around that is toxic to your life and doesn’t provide space for you to live a happier, more fulfilled life?
Simple living and owning less is what makes me happier. Leave me a comment below and tell me at least 2 things you can do this month to declutter and simplify your surroundings and your life.
In 2017 I sold my house and everything I owned to live out my dream life as a full-time digital nomad. I started in a 26 foot RV and within a year downsized into a 20-foot van.
I’ve been traveling in an RV for the last 3 and half years around the US, Mexico, and Canada, but I think we can all agree that this last year has brought about many challenges.
2020 has been filled with some major ups and downs and definitely challenged me with traveling between states and countries. I’m just grateful that I can still travel.
Just recently we were able to get my Canadian boyfriend, legally, across the border with his van but with the new travel advisories, we had to cancel our winter trip to sunny Baja Mexico. Instead, we’re spending some of the winter in the southwest United States and crossing off a few bucket list places, but first – I want to show you how I live in my van and what’s it like on a daily basis from morning until evening.
I wake up most mornings to the sunrise. The circadian rhythm of my body has become accustomed to waking with the sun rising and getting sleepy with the sunset. This natural rhythm only happened after I started this nomad life and got rid of the alarm clock.
My mind and body enjoy and thrive under this natural rhythm of waking. It feels refreshing and gentle instead of that jolt from sleep you get with a loud buzzer ringing next to you annoyingly wake you up from a rather sound and joyous sleep state.
Lily seems to be in tune with her circadian rhythm as well and wakes with the sun though sometimes she’ll sleep in and I have to wake her for breakfast.
On this winter day in the desert, it can be quite cold at night. I typically sleep with the furnace off and instead opt for a very warm goose down comforter to keep us warm at night. Our propane tank is so small that keeping the furnace going all night would then require me to fill up with propane every 4-5 days.
So the first thing I do when getting up is to turn the van on to get those cold lithium batteries charged up a bit and to get the heat flowing through the van quickly from the dashboard heater. With the dashboard heater on I then turn on the furnace to help heat the floors and provide a constant source of warmth.
Opening the blinds will also help to bring in warm direct sunlight into the van and also help to wake us up in the morning.
I’ll wash up a bit, throw on some clothes, and start the coffee on my induction cooktop. I have a propane stovetop, but again, because our propane tank is so small I’d rather use an induction cooktop that uses electricity generated from solar panels or the 2nd alternator on my van. I also love that the induction cooktop cooks foods much quicker and more evenly.
Breakfast is usually oatmeal or eggs or a smoothie. Today we’ll have oatmeal with some raisins my fave is the Bob’s Red Mill organic thick-cut rolled oats with some nuts and seeds and a dollop of honey.
This week, Scott and I are in Quartzsite, AZ with our friend Dave and his dog Kirby who joined us during the holidays. I think we may even travel together a bit around Arizona soon too.
One of my favorite past times growing up is to sit outside and drink my coffee, eat my breakfast, and enjoy family and friends.
It’s no different for me now. It feels so good to sit here and enjoy my hot coffee and the conversations we have as a nomadic community of friends. It’s somehow peaceful and allows us to connect and build relationships – even or dogs partake of the morning chats as we watch the sun continue to rise and fill our campsite with warmth on these chilly mornings.
WHAT'S IT LIKE AT OUR CAMPSITE EACH DAY
When picking a camping site I have several requirements:
The weather must be above freezing and preferably warm during the days.
It must have a cell signal so I can operate my online business.
A space with plenty of room between us and other campers.
A place where I can sit outside and enjoy the beauty and throw out my yoga mat for some exercise.
…and lastly, a place that is peaceful and quiet most of the time.
If it has some trees to secure the hammock -well that’s a bonus! That one is a bit harder to come by in the desert with the lack of trees.
Most days I work on the business, but I also play a lot. Sometimes we’ll have friends who drop by for several days and camp with us. It’s one of the things I love about this life – the nomad community of friends with similar interests and the dream to travel and be free from the norm.
Our dogs are a constant source of entertainment. They love to play catch with the ball – except Lily who would rather sit on a lap and bask in the sun.
We go for walks and enjoy the landscape around us – yes even the desert.
We pick up the campsite when the wind comes barreling through and knocks over chairs and whips around the mats.
We listen to podcasts, the radio, and music – things that speak to us and enrich our brains and soul.
We break out a hobby to soothe our creative juices. I used to knit a lot, but it somehow seems useless in this life right now, so I have a new hobby I’m taking up that you will soon see. I’m so excited about this new adventure and the ability to create and use my hands for making beautiful art.
It’s one of the other things I love about this life – the simplicity of having time to create, to enjoy, to explore, to read, to build relationships. In my life before – it was a constant churn of busyness and chaos with work and the house. I had little room in my life to create or even date somebody.
It feels good to share this life with others and with Scott.
EXERCISE & SELF CARE
My weight seems to be a constant battle – one that ebbs and flows. I do well with losing weight and then I don’t. I’m in the don’t phase right now and working to correct that again.
One thing I constantly must do is to keep my body stretched and flexible. As I’ve aged I can feel the inflexibility creeping in so I love to do yoga and simple 5 minute back decompression that seems to reset my back each day and keep it moving as it should.
Feeling the warmth of the sun on my body and doing a short meditation as I decompress grounds me and balances my energy and mind. In combination with meditation, I journal to manifest my desires – my dreams – and express gratitude for every moment. While I love the tactile feeling of paper and pen – and I might go back to it – right now I’m journaling with my iPad and pencil to reduce the number of items in my van and keep it simple and minimalist in here.
Our current camping group has e-bikes so it’s great to get out on a long ride and explore a little bit. Quartzsite had some great gravel trails for biking and our fat tire e-bikes glide over the rocks and terrain with ease.
Bicycling – no matter what weight I was at – has always been a favorite form of movement for me all of these years. It’s a feeling of freedom for me. The wind, the sun, the ability to stretch my legs with each turn of the pedals. It’s another form of exploration for me. To wander and see our lands.
I love the peacefulness of a ride and how it invigorates me and lights up every cell in my body with happiness.
WE DO ERRANDS
I try to group errands together all in one day so we don’t have to prepare the van for traveling too often.
We have to go into town to throw away our trash at designated transfer stations or sometimes the gas stations.
Since the gyms are more restrictive now with COVID guidelines, we’ve canceled our memberships and use public showers in the local area. It can be a cheaper option.
We found this shower at the local laundromat for $8 per person that supplied piping hot water and great pressure. Showers are one of the luxuries I miss about the sticks and bricks life, but I’ll take what I have created in this nomad life, sacrifice a daily shower, live with the dirt, and keep traveling. This is why I started Story Chasing – to create more moments– more stories that fill my life with happiness and to live more simply.
In most towns, you’ll find a local mail center that will accept incoming packages for you for a small fee. On errand day, we pick up all of our mail and packages at the local mail center, remove all the contents, and burn the cardboard at our campfire if we can’t find a place to recycle it.
On this day, we found a great pizza restaurant in town and splurged on eating out – picked the pizza up and took it back to our campsite to devour. Most of the time we cook our meals – which we both prefer, but it’s nice to have a meal cooked for you and also support the local businesses.
WORKING & CLEANING
I’ve definitely embraced the simple minimalist life living in a van, but sometimes I can get carried away with thinking I need that something that I’ve had in the van for over a year and never used. Dave and Scott challenged me to start the purge and get rid of stuff I haven’t used in a while like the clothes and shoes I’ve been hanging out to or the broken camera equipment that I clearly don’t use.
I still can’t believe that I got rid of eight bags of things hanging around that didn’t serve me. It felt so good to be rid of that stuff that was creating chaos for me and anxiety with the stuff just sitting around collecting dust and not allowing me to get to the things I really do use.
Purging those things allowed me to buy this roll-up table that is perfect for pulling up the chairs and eating a meal each day. It’s funny how this little table created so much happiness for me by simply allowing us to gather around it for meals, conversation, and community. It’s the simple things that make me smile.
FOOD & MEALS
Recently I added this small toaster oven to my cooking appliances. I’ve longed for an oven for a while now and really miss what it has to offer. Like the simplest thing of making toast for breakfast or for a sandwich at lunchtime.
Another favorite is my small propane grill that plugs in directly to my onboard propane tank. Scott and I both love to cook on the grill. It’s fast, easy and wow does it taste so flavorful. Sometimes I’ll cook a whole package of chicken thighs or breasts to prep for the week and add to salads, omelets, or have as a main protein and add veggies to the plate.
SoloStove sent me this campfire stove and pot to try out some cooking outdoors with a wood fire. Dave was my guinea pig and decided to cook some vegan burgers and sausages which turned out so well.
I love the solo stove and what it has to offer, but I think I’ll stick to my propane grill and induction cooktop. It’s just easier for me and doesn’t require me to chop all the wood and get a fire started, but it’s definitely great for those times when you go backpack camping and need to cook or heat up your water for coffee. Thank you SoloStove.
At night we start the wind down from our daily playing and working to enjoy the sunsets – especially in this Arizona desert where the colors of orange, purple, yellow, and pinks lights up the sky. I honestly have never seen more colorful sunsets than here in Arizona.
Sometimes we’ll put on a movie or a new episodic tv show, chat, and enjoy a relaxed evening.
Campfires are our favorite night time get together with those camping near us. We’ll bundle up in our warm jackets and hats, bring out the chairs, our favorite beverage which is typically a chai tea latte for me, and sit around the campfire listening to the crackle of wood.
I’m always mesmerized by the breathing in and out of the glowing wood that helps to provide us with warmth and a stunning show of flickering flames under a dark night sky lit up with brilliant stars.
Freedom. That word keeps coming up for me. Getting rid of the junk is freedom for me. Living this nomadic life is freeing for me. Bicycling is freedom. Drinking my coffee at sunrise and grounding my feet to the earth is freedom.
This is where I live.
ReallReallOvernights & Places Visited
BLM land in Quartzsite, Arizona / $0
Any RV can handle the BLM lands in Quartzsite. Just be careful in some areas with loose sand.
Cell Phone Signal Strength: Really great cell signal except for January and February when thousands of people converge on this area for various functions in the area. AT&T was stronger than Verizon and you'll definitely need a cell booster, like the weBoost that I use, to get a better signal if you'll be working or watching movies.
When you first start RVing, you might not know exactly what RV gear you need to stock in your RV and van with some of those essential items. I'd like to share with you my top 10 RV essentials, or what I think are RV essentials to have that make my life a little bit easier when I'm traveling in my van full time.
Today I'm writing to you from the desert in Arizona.
It's that time of the year where we all (digital nomads) start traveling down to the Southwest to get out of the cold from up North or wherever we've been traveling for the summer season.
It was definitely cold in the last couple of places we went to from Washington state all through Oregon, then California, and now Arizona.
With all the new regulations and advisories with Covid-19 – we might just be in Arizona for the winter. These are interesting times and we're all adapting to the change as we go.
Also, I'm going to share with you an amazing discount that Jackery is giving to all of you. Hint, hint – one of my top RV essentials is a Jackery.
They are giving you a discount during the holidays on a couple of their different solar battery packages for their power stations and also their solar panel.
The first item I'm going to share with you today is my Jackery solar panel power station system. This particular system is the Jackery 1000 Powerstation with 1000 watts of battery storage and a pure sine inverter which is a must when charging expensive electronics. It also comes with two 100 watt solar panels for a total of 200 watts.
There are three different AC outlets, one USB-C – which I use to power my GoPro when I'm recording night lapses outside. You have two quick charge USBs plus the 12-volt outlet, and a connection for your solar panels. There is a display button so you can see how much energy you're bringing in and how much energy you're consuming if you have a device plugged into it.
It's super simple to plugin using the cables attached to the solar panel and then using the adapter to connect two solar panels together, you then plug in into the designated spot. It's dummy proof for people like me.
Depending on the direction of the sun, you can pull in a much as 200 watts (2 solar panels at 100 watts each), but typically with the winter sun, I'm getting 120-130 watts with the two panels.
I started out with the 500-watt battery and inverter power station which worked really well. I love the 1000 watt too since I can double my capacity of energy to store and consume. I have quite a few electronics and camera equipment so it's really nice to be able to charge this battery during the day and use it at night to power devices and charge.
It also has such a small footprint that it's easy to keep in the van. I slide the folding solar panels between the passenger door and the passenger seat since I rarely open that door. That's Lily's little nest of toys and blankets.
Plus I can also charge my Rad electric bike battery off of the power station as well. It has a lot of different multiple functions and is great for anyone who doesn't want to install an expensive solar charging system permanently to their RV.
Jackery has a wonderful discount for you during the holidays. It's a pretty long list of discounts that I've added to the description box of my YouTube video. Click here to get the discount codes found under that video in the description and pinned comment for Black Friday specials and afterward for the holiday season.
The second item that I really like and consider part of my RV essential gear is my Weber Go. It's a grill. I don't actually have an oven inside of my van. I miss having an oven! So, this Weber Go grill takes the place of an oven – kinda.
I like to grill meats and vegetables and various things like that and it's just super simple to light up the grill and cook a good meal. It's just another way to cook instead of using the stovetop. In a van, you need very minimalist products, something small that can fit into the back of the van. So, I decided on the Weber Go.
I also decided on the gas grill rather than the charcoal. It's a lot easier and I can connect the grill to the propane tank on board the van with a quick connect hose. What's nice about it is, it's very compact.
You've got your grill surface. There's nothing fancy about it. It's got the lid cover to make sure all the meats and vegetables are cooked inside properly. Then there are metal legs that have a dual purpose to use as a stand for the grill and then fold up easily over the top of the grill cover when not in use and ready to store.
It's taken my cooking to a whole new level in the van!
All right, let's move on to the next one, which is my sand-free mat. I absolutely love this mat. It's quite interesting. If you look at the material on it, somehow the sand goes through this meshy area and stays on the ground rather than the top of your mat so it saves on cleaning and dirt build-up.
The other thing that I love about this sand-free mat is that even with a little bit of wind it seems to stay on the ground and not fly away. I'm not exactly sure how, but it does and it works.
This is one of my favorite items. I've gone through so many different mats since I've started RVing three and a half years ago and this is by far my top mat. It just holds up. It's made very well, no sand, easy to clean, easy to store. It rolls up really nice and compact and slides into back of the van.
The next essential RV gear is my tripod chair. It's very minimalist. It's easy to carry, and it folds up easily and it's compact. You can fold it up with one hand (which you can see in my video). There's also a little strap so you can carry it on your shoulder if you wanted to, then you just sit your bum right down in seat. Easy peasy!
It's really great when you have those campfires that you want to go to if you're hanging around in a crowd, during non-COVID times, of course, and walk with that rather than a big bulky chair. I use it as a secondary chair too, for guests who come over so we can sit outside.
The next item is, well, not as fun, but it's a surge protector, this is from Progressive Industries and a MUST. What I love about it, is that it keeps all my electronics safe in my van.
What this is used for is when you go to a campground or any place that you're going to plug into shore power to your van or RV. Mine happens to be a 30 amp, but Progressive Industries also has a 50 amp one as well. You plug this surge protector into the AC outlet on the wall, or at your campground, and then you plug your electrical plug from your van, or your RV into the Progressive Industries surge protector. It gives you all kinds of warning and error codes in the display to let you know that the power that's coming in is safe and to make sure there's no power surge. It also tells you if there's an under or over voltage, which is really nice.
You definitely don't want that to happen, because you don't want all of your electronics to be fried if there's a surge of power from the campground electricity. Unfortunately, campgrounds aren't always so reliable when it comes to the power coming into the electrical posts at each campsite. So, this is an absolute must to protect your RV electrical system from bad electricity surges, and under/over-voltage issues.
One of the other top RV essentials that I think is a must-have is my tire pressure monitoring system from TireMinder. I also have a coupon code for you that will give you 20% off if you use the code StoryChasing. It does exactly what it says it's going to do. It tells me what the temperature is of the tires. It tells me what the PSI of the tires are and alerts me if any of those numbers are not the normal range for safety.
I can monitor my PSI and tire temperature while I'm driving and make sure that my tires aren't ready to have a blowout or they're getting overheated. Those are things that you have to be aware of when you're driving as much as we do in van life and RV life.
I actually published a video on this when I talked about tire safety. You can click here to watch that video where I go into more detail about how to actually set it up for your van or RV:
It's a great little system – very small and compact. I just put it right on my dash and monitor my tires as I go. It's very, very simple. Also, I haven't had any issues with air leaking out from the sensors screwed on to the tire valve stems. It's worked really well for me. I love it. It's definitely a must-have.
My travel Berkey is a must-have for me because I drink a ton of water. It does what the name implies – filters water – better than any other filter I've ever seen or used. This way I have good clean water in my van and I don't have to buy a bunch of bottled water. It also states that it can filter river water.
I don't typically go places where I have to filter river water, but supposedly it can do that. What I love is that it has two carbon filters up here in the top chamber and then two more filters in the bottom chamber to filter out fluoride and other contaminants.
I love that because I can actually take water from my fresh water tank, put it inside the top chamber with my kitchen faucet hose, and then it filters the water directly from my van's freshwater tank. I would never drink from the freshwater tank directly. The filters last a long time at 6,000 gallons for the two top filters.
My next must-have in RV life and van life is a gimbal. You're going to be taking a lot of pictures whether you have a YouTube channel or not, so you'll want to get some of those good pictures and selfies, right?
I love this gimbal by DJI. It's an Osmo Mobile 3 and it's just amazing and simple. I use my phone a lot more these days for filming footage so this gimbal helps make my video shows a little bit more buttery smooth. If you watch the video, I demonstrate how to use the gimbal with the iPhone.
So, if you want something that's nice and compact, this is a great tool and it has a tripod function for it too. It also has some follow-me features on it and a bunch of different functions that really help you get that shot that you're looking for with still photos and videography. Again, it's not super complex. It's really easy to use, and this tripod screws off of the handle so you can use the gimbal with or without the tripod.
You can put it in your purse or fold it up and slide into your back pocket pretty easily.
One of my other favorite things on my top RV essential in the van is a magnetic mount for my dash so that I can put my phone on it very easily, every time I get into the driver's seat and I can look at my Google Maps.
I can pull up anything that I want on there, but it's nice and easy. The back of the phone has these little plates on it that you just stick on to your phone or case and you just literally stick your phone up to the magnetic dash mount and it grabs your phone and stays in place. It can move around and swivel any which way you want on the ball head mount.
You can reposition the phone on the mount if you want it higher or lower just by pulling the phone off and putting it back onto the magnet.
It's just amazing. It's a must.
It's just super easy. It's not complicated. I've been on BLM land, washboard roads, rocky roads, back and forth to Alaska, to Baja Mexico, and no issues whatsoever. It has not fallen down.
The last item – and one of my very, very favorites – is my Instant Pot. I absolutely love this thing. This is kind of a two for one must-have RV gear. I have these pot-in-pots, which are absolutely amazing to cook in for simple one-pot meals.
This is a 3 quart instant pot. It's nice and compact for van life. Just simple.
It has settings for rice, porridge, steam, yogurt, you can actually make yogurt in here – saute function, slow cook, beans, chile, meats, stew, and soups. I typically just use the pressure cook function or saute most of the time, or sometimes I even use the steam function. If I'm doing poached eggs, yes, you can do poached eggs in the Instant Pot. Isn't that amazing?
I cook oatmeal in the Instant Pot, steel-cut oats, regular oats. I steam broccoli, poached eggs, and cook rice, chili, soups, meats, and fish. It's pretty versatile.
The great thing is that it doesn't use a ton of power and that's important in an RV and a van, because you're always constantly concerned about your power, especially if you're boondocking. With the instant pot, it gets up to pressure – that's when it uses most of its power – and then once it gets up to pressure, it's hardly using any energy whatsoever and it's just cooking inside that pressure time. So, if I'm cooking steel-cut oats, which take about five minutes, I put the Instant Pot on high pressure cook for five minutes, it gets up to pressure and then it counts down that timer of five minutes.
During that time when it's counting down the time, that's when it uses very little energy. The pot-in-pots are really great because you can cook several meals in one. So, a lot of times I'll put rice down in the bottom chamber and I'll put fish and vegetables up in the top chamber. It cooks all of the food at the same time inside of the Instant Pot. You've got a meal all in one pot.
Thank you Jackery for supplying the solar panels and the power station and make sure you click those links for the discount to the Jackery. Not only for Black Friday, but also after Black Friday during Christmas, the first part of December, you can see all of the links below. You can buy it on Amazon, or directly through the link to Jackery and get that discount.
I'm sitting here in the Arizona desert writing this and enjoying this beautiful area around me.
In the past I’ve mentioned how I’ve manifested all five of my big dreams in five years and then I received so many emails and comments on my blog and YouTube channel asking how I did.
So today I’m going to show you how to turn your dreams into reality.
This is absolutely one of my favorite subjects. It changed my life!
I accomplished all five of my biggest dreams in five years and I couldn't believe it even when it was happening before my very eyes.
I learned how to do this one technique that will hopefully change your life too.
So grab a pen, grab a piece of paper or your iPad, or whatever you use to write things down. And don't forget your coffee if you're a coffee drinker and let's get started.
How Can a Dream Become a Reality
Dreams can become reality through a systematic approach called the Create. Do. Live. Principle. This principle will help you achieve you dreams by creating an action plan that leads to manifesting your all-time big dreams.
Sound too good to be true?
Let me explain….
There was a time in my life back in 2013 where I had moved from Seattle, Washington to Scottsdale, Arizona, and it was for a new job. During that time, I was going through some difficulties with my weight and a little bit of depression, because I'd lost so much weight but then started to regain it.
I ended up hiring a holistic health coach. Interestingly during our session, this holistic health coach asked me:
“Amber, if you could have anything you wanted create your life, what do you want? Give me five things.”
Little did I know that one question would literally change the trajectory of my life.
My Five Big Dreams
My five dreams were:
I wanted to move back to Seattle because I had created a really good life there and I had family and friends there that I really missed. At the time I hated the desert. So I wanted to move back to Seattle.
I wanted to purchase my own home.
I wanted to work remotely.
I wanted to travel full time.
I wanted to start my own business.
At the time I was thinking, these are just lofty dreams. I had no idea how these dreams would happen. I didn't think it was going to happen, but she really encouraged me to visualize those five dreams.
When I thought of the dreams I went through this whole scenario of visualization and manifestation and I truly believed it would come to fruition – still not knowing how.
I was amazed at how things started to change in my life.
Manifestation of My Dreams were Realized
The first thing that happened was I moved back to Seattle which was incredibly exciting for me. The second dream that became reality was that I was now working remotely for the same company in Scottsdale, Arizona.
I had no idea that I would still be able to keep my job and move, but it happened in an unexpected way.
The third dream that became a reality was purchasing a new home. I was renting at the time when I moved back to Seattle and then I bought a house up about an hour North of Seattle.
Little did I know that I'd only be in that house for a year before I started to travel full time which leads me to the fourth big dream.
I bought an RV, I sold everything that I owned in 2017 and started traveling full-time.
Lastly, I started my business about a year after I went RVing which was this accidental business of YouTube and courses for nomads. I always call it an accidental business because I had no design to start a YouTube business, but it just kind of happened. That is a story for another day.
I started that visualization in 2013 and announced what my dreams were. Then by 2017 I was RVing full time. And then by 2018 I had quit my job and started my own business. So, in the course of five years, I realized all five of my dreams.
Now, I will tell you in my entire life, this has never happened to me, but I figured out the secret to manifesting my dreams.
I created this principle off of that secret called the Create. Do. Live. Principle. It's about how to teach this same manifestation technique to other people.
Dream Big and Vividly
One of the things that I want to teach you today is how to take your dreams from a dream state to a reality state.
Should Dreams be Realistic or Can It Be Unrealistic
Dreams aren’t meant to be realistic necessarily or else it wouldn’t be a dream. It might seem unattainable, but I don’t want you to be concerned with that right now.
When I say to dream big, I’m not talking about winning the lottery or anything like that. I'm talking about things that you genuinely want to have happen in your life that can come to fruition. You may not know the steps in between to get there. You may not know how it's going to happen, but it can.
Writing Down Your Dreams
Remember that paper or iPad I asked you to get out? Grab it.
I want you to write down your dreams.
It’s important that you don’t skip this step. Writing your thoughts down not only allows you to reference it later, but it acts as way of putting your thoughts into existence by the simple act of pen to paper.
Write down your top 5 big dreams you want in your life.
Now keep this handy because we’re going to reference it again in a moment.
You're probably wondering now – exactly how do you implement this Create. Do. Live. Principle.
So the Create Phase is kind of what it suggests. You're taking your dream from a dream state to a vision and then setting a goal.
As I was saying before, dreams can seem a little bit lofty right? It's a dream. It's kind of just out there in thin air. There's no real structure to it. It's just something that you're thinking about.
Dream vs a Vision vs a Goal
When you take a dream to a vision and you start to actually visualize it the pieces begin to come together.
You start envisioning yourself stepping into that dream.
For example, when I was thinking about traveling full time, I would think about myself being in an RV and traveling across the country and literally being behind the wheel. I really wanted to manifest this Hymer van and so I got a white Hymer van picture and I stuck a photo of myself in the driver's seat and I put that on my wall. I could visualize myself in that Hymer and traveling full time not only in my head but now I could actually see it on my wall each day.
You’ve now taken it from a dream state to the vision state. This vision state is the “intention” to manifest.
You're constantly thinking about the vision and what your life will be like when that happens. If you can get yourself to a state of visualizing yourself, not only from a state of it's going to be happening, but that it has already happened and connect those emotions and feelings that you would have if it had already happened together as you visualize well – you're a thousand steps ahead of the game if you can do that.
Then you take it from visualization to goal.
Part of the Create Phase is putting together your action plan that gets you to your goals.
Why Do You Want This Dream?
The other important thing about thinking about your goals, your dreams, your visualization is why this dream is important to you.
Ask yourself that question. Why?
Why do you want this thing to become a reality?
For me it was traveling – I wanted the freedom. That was my why. I wanted to be stripped away and live more minimalistic. I didn't want to be in this vicious circle of buying things for my house and having to be tied 24/7 since I worked remotely in it and the weekends consumed my time with house maintenance.
Even though my goal, my dream, had been to purchase a house, it was the first house I'd ever purchased. I wanted that experience. At the time I had no idea what that I was going to be traveling full time.
I wanted the freedom to be away from all that and not be tied down to a specific spot. I always wanted to take road trips and travel full time and be in an RV and travel internationally eventually, but I wanted my house to be there with me as well.
RVing was just a natural step for me.
Your step, if you want to travel full time may be to travel internationally and go to Airbnb or hostels or do RVing part of the year and traveling abroad part of the year.
It's whatever your dream is. Your dream does not have to be my dream of RVing.
When I asked myself the question, “Why do I want to travel full time?”, I said “Because I want more freedom.”
Well why do I want more freedom? Because I was tied down to this house and I didn't want to be stuck in the house all the time.
So why did I not want to be stuck in the house all the time? Because I wanted to go and explore lands and be able to have more memories and not live with regrets and create more stories in my life.
Why do I want to create more stories in my life? Because I don't want to get to the time of my life when I'm either sick or retired and I can't do the things that I want because my body doesn't allow me to do it. Maybe I don't ever get to retirement. I don't know what life holds for me.
I wanted to make sure that I lived my dreams now. Those are all my why's.
You can ask yourself why to every answer that you give yourself to the why question. I hope that makes sense.
Planning and Researching Your Dream
In the Create Phase, you've already written down what your dream is, what your visualization is, what your goals are, and you've written down your why.
You’ll want to use this process for all of your dreams.
The next part of the Create Phase is planning and researching how to get to that goal.
It’s time to being determining what your next steps are will be in this create phase.
You’ll want to start your research, if needed, to get answers to some of your questions before you put concrete actions into your plan.
Finding a Mentor & Support is Crucial
It's great to find support to help you research this dream and bring it into reality. One of the things that you can do is find a like-minded community.
Finding a like-minded community of people that can help you with your planning and your research is so helpful when they are on a similar path as you.
That kind of motivation and inspiration just really helps propel you and keeps you on track.
The other thing that you can do is find a mentor. Find somebody who has had the experiences for the dreams that you want to become a reality.
When I started out visualizing my dream, and putting my goals together and researching, I didn't have anybody who could actually help me and mentor me through the process. I had to do a lot of research on my own for about five years, on and off obviously, but I was doing research for that five-year time span to figure out how to travel full time in an RV.
I had never actually RV’d before I decided to RV, but I knew that I would love it because I loved road trips.
Finding that like-minded community, finding yourself a mentor, and then you can start actually putting the steps together for your goals.
The Do Phase
The next phase is the Do Phase where you take your plan that you've created and actually implement it.
Now this phase which can be simple or it can be difficult for some people.
You've planned everything out. Some people are planners. They love to plan and they love to get it all down on paper, but they never follow through with it.
Because some people think that in order to create change in their life they have to make these huge, big leaps.
Everything that they do, every action that they take has to be huge and gigantic and that's going to get them to their goal.
The truth is – that rarely ever works.
Small Consistent Steps Wins
What does work is taking small, consistent steps. I call them baby steps, and what that looks like is – every single day you're going to take some action that will get you to one of your goals.
You could working on all of your goals at the same time or one goal at a time. It’s your choice. You’re designing your life.
The point is that you need to take small, consistent actions on a daily basis, and that is what is going to get you to your goal. It's going to make sure that you actually accomplish it.
Throughout the Do Phase you're still visualizing your dream, you're still acting as if it has already happened, and attaching those emotions to it that will help get you to your goal.
Believe in Yourself
The other thing that can be very difficult for people in the Do Phase, is to believe in yourself. Now, it may be hard to believe in yourself when you're not even sure how this dream is going to come to fruition.
You've put some goals down but maybe your goals aren't super concrete because you still don't really know all the steps in the process. However, what will happen is through your visualization, through continually thinking about what you want to have happen the universe is going to give it to you.
Things will start to come to you about how you need to put this process in place. You'll start getting the steps in your head even though, again, you had no idea how it can happen.
Idea are going to start coming to you that will allow you to put the steps in place for your goal. Again, it's idea that you might not have ever considered. You need to be open to every possibility out there even though you may not know that possibility even exists.
The Live Phase
We've gone through the Create Phase of putting your plan together. We've gone through the Do Phase of actually implementing your plan and taking consistent action every single day.
Now it's the Live Phase.
Why is this phase important?
Well, this phase is kind of the juice. It's the reward of getting through the Create. Do. Live. process and your dream has now become a reality.
I want to recognize this Live Phase and recognize you for getting to this point of the Create. Do. Live. Principle and realizing your dreams. It's actively happening in your life.
This is the part where you get to live out that dream and you get to relish in it.
Why Gratitude is So Important
One of the most important things that I believe you can do is to express gratitude. Gratitude is one of the things that actually allows you to accomplish even more.
It’s expressing thanks.
It’s expressing your appreciation to universe/God
It’s expressing gratitude to the people in your life that helped you get there and to yourself for being able to accomplish this goal.
Gratitude is something that is very, very positive. Focusing on the positive aspects of life and focusing on the positive things that are happening in your life is what is going to allow you to accomplish your dreams.
Even in the Create Phase and even in the Do Phase, you’ll want to continually express gratitude every step of the way, even if that thing hasn't happened.
When I was looking at traveling full time and wanted that dream to be my reality, I kept saying, “I'm so thankful for being able to travel full time. I feel so amazing. I am getting that freedom that I really want.”
When you continually express gratitude through every single phase, you're focusing on the positive and I truly believe what you focus on is what you're going to get.
This positive focus is a huge mind shift from dwelling on the negative and focusing on the positives to turn your dreams into reality.
If you're focusing on people and gossip and things like that, then you're not going to get the things that you want in life. Focusing on things that are positive and focusing on things that are going to provide more dreams into reality for you, it's where it's all at.
Decide and Get Started Today
Deciding to change your life and design it can be a hard step, but I think once you make that decision you’ve tackled the biggest hurdle – deciding.
After that it’s putting the steps into motion and following through each day.
I want you to think about how this can change your life for the better. If all your dreams came true – how would you feel? Really think about that!
Ignore the People Who PooPoo on Your Dreams
If you decide to tell people your dreams – I think it’s amazing and just makes it that more real. My only word of caution is to be careful who you tell and don’t listen to the people who are negative and don’t believe you can do it.
The only person that counts in this scenario is YOU. You have to believe that you can, therefore you will.
If somebody in your life tends to be negative in general, maybe you keep these dreams to yourself and protect and guard them.
I can’t wait to see what you do!!!
Make sure you get your free PDF cheatsheet so you can keep it on your phone and remind you of all the steps to turn your dreams into reality – from a dream to a vision to a goal to an action plan and into reality.
I’d love to hear what your dreams and what you want to accomplish. Leave me a comment below so we can continue this conversation.
Well, it's official. I'm now a Texas resident. I have a temporary driver's license, and I also have some license plates. As a digital nomad, what state you actually hold your residency in can have an impact on your travel plans. So I'll share with you why I decided to change my residency from Washington to Texas and explain to you that entire process about why I decided to set up my residency in Texas versus Florida or South Dakota.
This is March 2019 and because I quit my job, I no longer had health insurance except through Cobra. It's about time that I figured out what state I need to domicile in so that I could get health insurance. One of the things that I need as a full time traveling, digital nomad, is a nationwide health insurance plan.
As a Washington state resident, they don't actually offer a national health insurance plan. So I needed to change my domicile to one of three states.
There's South Dakota, Florida, and Texas.
Those are three states that are actually really great for RVers because they don't have a state income tax. Just in general, they're a little bit more RV friendly. Some of the fees for registering your RV is a little cheaper there as well.
Why I Chose to Domicile in Texas
At first, I thought I was going to domicile in Florida because they had a nationwide health insurance plan. But this year in 2019, Texas actually offered a nationwide health insurance plan, so I decided on Texas instead.
I'll most likely be closer to Texas than I would Florida most of the year, so Texas just also seems to be more advantageous for that. Plus I have family there so I'll be in Texas a little bit more.
Also, the requirement with Texas car inspections is they do require inspections every so often, but if you're not in the state, you don't have to go back to get that inspection until you actually get back into the state. Then you have about three days to get your RV or your car inspected as soon as you get back into the state. That's another reason why I chose Texas because I wouldn't have to go back quickly to get my car inspected every so often.
In other words, I really don't have to go back to Texas very often unless I want to see my family of course. But there's no real legal reason why I need to go back, which is why I decided on Texas, oh and the ability to get on a nationwide health insurance plan.
It was a fairly easy process to get domiciled in Texas, but you need to know the requirements and step-by-step process.
Step-by-Step Process to Domiciling in Texas
There are four things that you need to do to get domiciled in Texas and you need to accomplish it in this order:
The first one is you need to establish an address in Texas.
The second thing is you need to get your RV inspected.
The third thing is you need to get your RV registered.
The fourth thing you need to do is actually get your driver's license.
I'm part of a club called Escapees and there's a subgroup called Xscapers that you might've seen me talk about every once in a while. They have a really great online program that shows you how you can domicile in Texas, South Dakota or Florida. But because I chose Texas, we're going to look at Texas today. You just go to their website and you can see the checklist has all of the information on what you need to do to get domiciled in Texas so that's how I started my process.
Establishing an Address in Texas with a Mail Forwarding Company
The first thing you need to do is get an address in Texas.
Now for me, I do have family in Texas, but I don't want to burden them with having to get my mail and send it to me.
So I chose to get a mailbox with the Escapees group that offers a mail forwarding service. I began the process about six months ago in anticipation that I was going to be changing my domicile. Now, it doesn't take that long to get an address, really just a couple of days.
So here's what I did.
I established that address about six months ago in Texas through the Escapees group. Then I drove all the way to Texas because I was going to be there to see family anyway, and decided this was a good time for me to go ahead and get domiciled.
There's an application for title that you'll need to fill out as well called Form 130-U.
You'll take your application for registration to the Texas county tax office along with the other items they will want to see.
They also want an actual physical picture of your RV so they can make sure that they know what they're actually registering, and provide them with the registration from the state that you came from.
My registration was from New Mexico, so I provided them with the registration from that state.
You need to know what your unloaded weight is of your vehicle because they do charge you based on the unloaded weight. My unloaded weight was on my New Mexico registration, so I used that, which was 7,700 pounds. You can also find your unloaded weight on a spec sheet or something like that that you have for your RV. But it's probably going to be on some kind of registration document that you originally filled out.
You need to show proof of insurance. I obtained my Texas insurance after switching from Washington which ended up being $400 more expensive in Texas than it was in Washington. So obviously this is going to be different for everybody based on what insurance you had and what state you were actually registered in.
I provided all of those documents to them along with my ID and received my plates right there on the spot.
They also provide you with a registration sticker that you need to put on your front window.
That was really it. It took maybe 15 minutes in order to get all of that taken care of. So not a long time at all.
Getting Your Texas Drivers License
Then I came over to the Texas driver's safety office in order to get my driver's license. That one took a little bit longer because there was a line for that, but I already had all of my documentation ready.
There is a nice checklist that they have online. In order to get your driver's license, all you need to do is fill out the application. Then you need to be able to prove who you are and the address that you're giving to them is actually your address.
Make sure to bring in further documentation, which is in the checklist. I would probably bring in a little more than you actually need just in case.
I would hate it if I came in and they had decided that they weren't accepting that proof of residency anymore. So I brought in a bank statement. I brought in my insurance that I changed to yesterday and that has my new address on it. I brought in my new registration that also had my new address on it.
Passport or other forms of identification to prove US citizenship
Proof of insurance
Proof of Residency documents like RV insurance, 1099s, W-2s, bank statements (click here for full list)
You'll be able to find all the documentation in the checklist that you can bring to prove that address.
You'll also need your current driver's license and you need to make sure it's current and not expired.
You'll also need another proof of who you are. So I brought in my passport. You can use a passport card if you want, but I used my passport. Then they also ask for your social security number or some proof of your social security number. I had my social security card so I just used that.
Then I brought it into the office. I showed them all of my documentation. I didn't have to do a driver's test or take a written test thankfully. They just completed all of the paperwork right there.
I had to record two electronic thumbprints and a signature. I also had to do a quick little eye exam because I do wear eyeglasses and then they took my picture. Then they give you a temporary license until you get your new permanent one in the mail.
What's funny about the driver's license number they gave me is that it's my old driver's license number from when I was 16 years old. I'm apparently still in the system, so they gave me the same number.
How Long Did It Take to Domicile in Texas
The day before I did the inspection is the day that I got all of my paperwork together and used as my day to research everything. So from beginning to end, it took me about 2.5 hours to figure out all the documents that I needed, put them all on a thumb drive and then go to the UPS Store to get printed so that I had everything ready to go and all I needed then is to sign off on all documents in front of them in their presence.
2.5 hours for research and paperwork
30 minutes for inspection
.25 hours for registration
2 hours for a drivers license (only because there was a line)
Now, of course, that doesn't count drive time to Texas, but as you can see, once you get all of your documentation together, it does not take very long at all to do this process.
One of the reasons why I decided on Texas was because of the nationwide health insurance plan.
So I'm curious if you're needing health insurance as a digital nomad, how have you gone about getting the insurance? Leave me a comment below. I'd love to hear how you're getting insurance. Or if you have insurance at all, have you opted to just not have insurance?
Traveling to Mexico in your RV can seem daunting, especially for the first time. So, I'm going to take the mystery out of crossing the border and give you some easy steps that you can follow so you can get on your way to that sandy beach in Mexico. Under the sun, soaking up the rays, maybe a little cold beverage with some fruit around the side. An umbrella, perhaps, and a straw, or you could just keep it simple and drink some cerveza.
Today I'm going to give you the seven must-haves when traveling across the border to Mexico in your RV or your car, if you're going to vacation over there. Especially if you're going to be there for over seven days and you're traveling with pets.
Now, I'll tell you. When I first thought about traveling to Mexico, even in a caravan with my Xscapers group, it felt a little bit daunting to figure out all of the requirements to get across the border. One of my number one fears was traveling to Mexico was insurance.
Thinking about the requirements for having insurance in Mexico and making sure that my RV was covered and safe worried me – and what if I was in an accident and it was my fault would the other person's vehicle be covered?
Get your FREE Mexico Travel Checklist so you can print out and check off each item as your prepare for your trip. I make it so easy for you with the printable checklist with tips and recommendations so you don't have to go through the worry that I did with researching and filling out forms.
So, you want to make sure you have Mexico insurance.
I'm with Progressive Insurance for my Hymer Aktiv van. I knew I was covered in Mexico but I didn't know to what extent. So, I made sure that if I was in an accident that my vehicle would be covered and the other vehicle would be covered as well.
I wanted to find out what would happen if I did get in an accident and what would I need to do. So, I called Progressive to find out.
What Progressive told me is that if I was in an accident and my vehicle was incapable of driving that my insurance would cover a tow back to the United States so that it could get repaired. They would not cover any charges to repair it in Mexico. So, because Mexico does not recognize United States insurance, you need to get Mexico insurance.
Since I was completely covered in Mexico on Progressive, I decided to only get liability in Mexico to satisfy Mexican law. I also made sure that that Mexico insurance had roadside assistance even though I had roadside assistance on my Progressive Insurance.
I thought it might be a little bit easier to have roadside assistance in Mexico on Mexico insurance should I possibly need it. So, I went ahead and got that as well.
Now, I was in Mexico for 10 full days and because I'm in a van and I'm potentially going to drive that van around for all of those 10 days, or some of those 10 days, I decided to get insurance for all 10 days while I was there.
If you have a tow vehicle, if you're in a trailer and you have a truck, you potentially don't need to have insurance on your trailer for all days that you're going to be there. You can just get your trailer covered for the days that you're driving into Mexico and driving out of Mexico. But then only cover your truck for all of the days.
Since you're going to be driving your truck around Mexico potentially on all days – since it's your main transportation – you want to make sure that it's completely covered on all days that you're there. Then you only have to cover your trailer for the days that you're actually driving with the trailer in and out of Mexico.
Number one, make sure you get insurance. They might check it at the border as well, so make sure you have that before you cross the border.
#2 Traveling with Pets to Mexico
The second thing you need to have, if you have pets, is you need to make sure that you have their rabies vaccination and a health certificate.
The health certificate must be signed by a licensed veterinarian and within 15 days of traveling into Mexico.
Now, I will tell you I've been to Mexico twice with my pet. One walking into Mexico through Los Algodones – just south of Yuma, AZ – with my dog Lily and they never asked me for that information even though I did carry it on me.
When I traveled in my RV to Mexico, they also did not ask me for that information but I wouldn't go over there without it, just in case you do get asked. You definitely do not want to get to the border and then all of a sudden not be able to get your pet over the border.
That would put a huge damper in your vacation plans and nobody wants that. Make sure you have the health certificate and the rabies vaccination with you.
#3 Mexico Travel Tourist Visa
The third thing that you need in order to cross the border into Mexico is something called an FMM. You need an FMM no matter how many days you are traveling in Mexico; however if it's 7 days or under, it's free. If you're staying 8 or more days then there's a fee, but it's pretty small. I was there for 10 days and paid around $30.
What is an FMM?
An FMM is basically short for a tourist visa. I was there for 10 days so I did need to fill it out. It's a really pretty easy form to fill out and I went online to complete it.
I'll give you a little tip here, make sure you use something like Google Chrome that has a translate button on it because the first part of filling out the form is in English, but when you get to the payment section, it wasn't in English at all and I had no idea what it said. I had to hit the Google Translate button and even then it did not completely translate everything.
Especially if it was a picture on the webpage and the picture had a word that was in Spanish. It wouldn't translate a picture, it only translates text.
I did go into online to Google Translate, take the word that was in the picture and type it into Google Translate, then it would translate it into English. It's really not a big deal, just make sure you have that Google Translate on, or, if you know Spanish, you're a little bit ahead of where I was with that.
It's very easy to fill out online. It's basically just going to ask you, what is your entry point into Mexico. We were entering from El Centro, California, into Mexicali.
There's a little drop down for choosing your entry point and you just would choose Mexicali or wherever you're going to cross the border.
You're going to put the date that you are crossing the border into Mexico and then you're also going to put the date that you're going to depart Mexico and cross back over the border.
Now, if your departure date should change and you want to extend your stay, that's completely fine. You don't need to change your FMM. The FMM is actually good for 180 days. It's just a starting point for you when you cross the border.
The other thing that you need to complete on the FMM is where you're going to be staying. If you have an RV park, like we did, you'll note the address of the RV park where you'll be staying.
You'll need to put some sort of address on there for where you're staying in Mexico. Now, you may be hopping around Mexico and that's completely fine, just find a place that you're probably going to stay at some point in time and put in that address.
It asks you for some more information like your name and your passport number, so you'll want to complete all of that.
The next think you'll need to do is pay for the FMM. Once you get to the payment screen, you'll put in your credit card information and then you're going to see how much it's going to cost you. Keep in mind that is in pesos.
It's not dollars, so don't freak out like I did at first. It's around 500 pesos. When I paid for it, my credit card statement showed it was about $30 once the conversion rate was applied.
You're going to get an email once they approve your FMM and you'll want to click on the link inside of the email to go to the FMM form and print out your FMM. Make sure you go ahead and print two copies while you're in there.
The other thing that you need to be aware of when filling out the FMM is that you need to make sure you fill it out within 30 days of arrival to Mexico. If you're thinking that you want to go to Mexico in about six months – and you're super proactive – and you want to go ahead and get your paperwork done now – WAIT!
You cannot fill it out the FMM right now and have it approved six months ahead of time. You have be within a 30 day window before you cross the border so just make sure you keep that in mind.
#4 Drivers License
The fourth thing that you're going to need is a driver's license. Now this may seem like a stupid thing for me to tell you but yes, you definitely need to have your driver's license. They might check once you cross the border and you need to have a drivers license to drive in Mexico just like everywhere else.
The good thing is you don't need an international driver's license to cross over the border and drive into Mexico for your vacation. So, just make sure to bring your driver's license with you.
The fifth thing that you're going to need is a passport. You can take a passport card or you can also use your traditional passport.
Now, you cannot get into Mexico without a passport.
They no longer use a driver's license. Maybe I'm dating myself by saying that but in the past you could get into Mexico and Canada with your U.S. driver's license. You cannot do that now. You actually have to have a passport or the passport card.
Make sure you have that with you. They will absolutely check that at the border.
#6 Vehicle Registration & Title
The sixth thing that you're going to need is to make sure you have your registration and or a title with you for a car to make sure that you own it and that it's actually registered.
They may or may not look at that. In my case, I brought it with me, they did not review my documents for my RV, but you always want to make sure you have it, just in case.
You don't want to get into Mexico or get to the border and they turn you around because you don't have the proper identification to prove that you actually own your vehicle that you're in.
So, make sure that you bring that with you.
#7 Duplicate Copies
The seventh thing that you're going to need is a copy of all of the information that I referenced above.
You want to make sure you have an additional backup copy. Just in case it gets lost, or they happen to take it for some reason. Just have an additional backup so that you can have your passport number on there, your driver's license number. Any of your pertinent information like your insurance so that you can have it handy in case it's lost or it's taken from you.
Preparing for Mexico Border Crossing
Before I actually got to the border, I put all of my documentation into a clear, plastic sleeve and then I kept this up in the front seat with me so that I could access it easily if I needed.
I even put my passport in there where it was right in the front. I made sure that, again, that was accessible to me in the front so that I could grab it really quickly.
When I actually got to the border, you have to park your vehicle and then go into the customs office so that you can show them your passport and show them your FMM document.
They're going to stamp the FMM document and they're going to, obviously, look up your passport to make sure that you're good to go into Mexico.
One of the reasons that I made sure that everything was inside of the plastic sleeve, is that I could just grab this pouch, go into the customs office and show them all of my documentation. Hopefully, I can make the process as easy and painless as possible and, hopefully get through the border very, very quickly.
The other thing is that there's a border agent that will want to come into your RV and inspect it.
One of the things I did before I went to the Mexico border crossing, the night before, was that I made sure that my RV was inspection-friendly.
What I mean by that is, if I open a cabinet up, is everything going to fall out of it if they open it up and inspect inside.
That happens in a van, by the way, or an RV. Things jostle around when you're driving. So, I made sure everything was tight in there. It was not going to fall out if they went to open it and inspect it.
I made sure that was done all throughout the RV.
Also, another thing that you want to make sure of is you are not taking anything illegal or that is prohibited into Mexico. The two number one very large things that are a no-no to take into Mexico is one, firearms. Can't take those in guys. No firearms, no ammo.
The second one is no drugs. So, I'm talking about illegal drugs.
Seems like a no-brainer.
There are also recreational drugs, in the United States, that are legal now, like marijuana. You want to make sure that you're not taking those over into Mexico.
It is not legal there and you will be arrested for that if it's found. They do have drug-sniffing dogs around the border so make sure you keep that in the United States.
One thing that you can do for items that you can't take into Mexico is to find a friend who can keep them for you. Or, just go get a storage locker and put all of that inside there.
So, you just want to make sure that everything in your RV is inspection-friendly and ready for them to board and look through. The cleaner you have it, the less things that will fall out. I feel like the easier it's going to be on them and the easier it's going to be on you. Just make sure that's all set and ready to go before you get to the border.
If you're looking to hit the road and be a digital nomad or maybe you're just looking to binge Netflix when you get to your camping spot – then you'll need a great cell signal for your mobile Internet.
How I stay connected on the road as a digital nomad is a hot topic and what equipment I use to make sure I have a cell signal the majority of the time.
I have multiple devices, a cell booster system, and I'll show you how to set it all up and explain the process of how it's connected inside and out so you can decide if this is something you'll want in your travels.
First Method to Getting Internet on the Road
The first piece of equipment you'll need is a hotspot like a Jetpack from Verizon. Verizon came out with the most fantastic plan yet that us digital nomads have been waiting for forever!
It's a prepaid, unlimited, unthrottled, no cap plan. I purchased the plan to test it out, and so far it's performing well, even in cities too where there's more traffic congestion on the networks.
I know, amazing huh?
Make sure you watch the review and click the link to take you right to the exact place to get the plan if you're interested. Part of my video shows how to set this plan up because most of the Verizon agents don't know about it.
A hotspot works off your current cell phone and/or data plan. The major players in the market that have the most coverage nationwide in the United States is Verizon, #1, and AT&T, #2 as of this posting.
I have a Verizon hotspot as well as an AT&T hotspot. I like having both because sometimes AT&T is better in one area than Verizon or vice versa. My entire business and consulting practice are online, so it's essential that I almost always have a cell signal for the Internet – unless of course I just am taking a break and need some digital downtime.
Now, in my video from last week, I talked about how I use my Verizon hotspot with a new prepaid plan so check that out. You may want to look into that because the Verizon hotspot that I was on before with my regular cell phone plan just didn't work that well.
The hotspots will allow you to get Internet on the road, but what about when you're in rural areas or places where the cell signal is weak?
Boosting Your Cell Signal So You Can Boondock Most Anywhere
So here's the thing, as a digital nomad, you need to make sure you're connected everywhere you go. I'm online 24/7, and it seems like I'm always charging my equipment, I'm always online loading videos or answering emails, social media, etc.
As a digital nomad, it's very important that you are always online and connected. So to make that happen, I have the two hotspots with Verizon and AT&T.
The other thing that's super important to make sure you're connected is a cell booster. The system that I use is called a weBoost, and it is connected to an antenna on the roof that boosts the cell signal inside the van and to my devices.
weBoost Antenna and Cell Signal
The weBoost is mounted to the side of the wall under my bench seat so it's out of the way and that is connected to AC power. To have AC Power you do need to have your inverter on to make that work properly.
The antenna that came with my weBoost is not the antenna that I'm using currently. The one that came with the system is one that you hard mount onto your van or to your RV, and I didn't want to punch any holes in my RV, so I got the magnet instead. This antenna is one that I specifically bought because it has an earth magnet on it and is very strong so it will mount on top of the van and stay there, even if I drive with it.
I do take it on and off when I travel and then when I'm stationary I keep it up on the roof. The cable runs down the side of the van and in through the driver door, and then that connects to the weBoost inside.
The cell towers are far and few between, more so than in an urban area, so you sometimes to boost your signal. The weBoost has helped me so many times when I'm in rural areas, and sometimes it'll say I have no signal whatsoever or just maybe one bar and then I'll plug it in and voila, I can sometimes get anywhere between two, three and even four bars.
That will help me to get that cell signal in those rural areas.
If you're going to be doing a lot of boondocking, make sure you get some kind of a cell booster. There are different ones out there, weBoost seems to be the best one in my opinion, and so that's the one that I went with, and it's the first one that I bought when I started RVing.
I haven't had any issues with it, except the fact that – oh guess what? I had a different antenna, and that antenna was just a slender antenna that had an earth magnet on it. I would put it on the top of the roof, and I could drive around a lot with that one on, but I was on the coast so much, and with all the salty air it got rusted.
So I had to replace it with the one I have now which won't rust when exposed to the environment.
How to Set-up weBoost Inside of Van
So you have your cell booster set up now, it's plugged in, the green light is on.
Now the green light means that it is getting a signal from the antenna on top of the roof and that it's working properly inside. The next question is how do you get that cell tower signal boosted to your devices? Like your hotspot or your cell phone and how does that whole system work?
You have the antenna on top, you have the weBoost system connected to the AC power, so then you have an inside antenna that's plugged into the booster. I place it on my table where I do most of my work, and I'll place my hotspots up in the window so it's getting a signal outside and it's close to this inside antenna.
The inside antenna is what ties it all together so that you can get a good cell signal to your devices. The closer it is to the antenna, the better.
Making sure that I use my weBoost and cell booster and these two hotspots – that's how I stay connected most of the time.
Connecting to Free WiFi & Internet on the Road
Most of the time I use my hotspots in the current set-up I explained, but there are times when it might be necessary to seek out WiFi.
My goto places are typically places like a Starbucks or a place that offers free WiFi.
The only time I've had issues is when I go to other countries like Canada and Mexico where my cell plan will cap me at a half a gig of data a day. So I will make more use out of the Starbucks, or believe it or not, Home Depot has excellent WiFi if you sit out in their parking lot next to the contractor section. I'm sure that sounds weird, but I've done all over New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Quebec, Canada.
That's an option too if you are traveling and for some reason, you don't have a hotspot, or you can't get a good cell signal. Go to a Starbucks, or Home Depot, a Lowe’s, or Walmart. I've had sporadic luck with Walmart and better luck with Home Depot for free WiFi.
Keeping Devices & Gear Charged in Camper Van
The other thing about being a digital nomad is making sure that you have enough power to charge everything.
I tend to use a lot of power because I have a lot of things to charge like a computer, a camera – well several cameras – an iPhone, and my two hot spots. Those hotspots need to stay charged up so that I can always stay connected.
My weBoost needs to be plugged in so that it can get a signal as well and that draws energy using AC power so the inverter must be on. I do have my solar panels which charge the batteries, and most of the time this is sufficient for my needs.
All of the devices also use AC power, which means I need to have my inverter on to get power to the USB port and the plugs.
I have to turn on my inverter, and I have to make sure my lithium batteries are on, and then I will be able to have power to everything.
I'm pulling so much energy from my batteries, so I want to make sure that I'm getting enough solar power so that:
I am charged up by using my solar panels which means that my batteries have to be on to convert the solar energy to store into my batteries, or…..
I'm driving throughout the day to charge the batteries, or …..
I can turn on my under hood generator, which is part of the Hymer Aktiv van system and charge my batteries.
And that allows all of the batteries to charge in the van.
It's pretty easy once you get the hang of it and you understand the charging and solar power system. You get to know your van or RV and figure out how much power you're pulling in from the sun and how much energy you're pulling out of your batteries on an everyday basis. As a digital nomad, that is something that I have to pay attention to daily.
I'm very conscientious of how much power I'm using just to turn the lights on or how much power I'm using when I'm cooking. I want to make sure that I'm entirely powered up throughout the day and just managing how much energy I'm using and consuming.
One of the things you might think about too is getting that Verizon hotspot that's prepaid and that is not throttled and completely unlimited. Go ahead and watch that video so you can see how you can get that hotspot, make sure that you're always connected, no throttle and unlimited.
That's a big deal in this digital nomad community as well.
Have you heard of the new Verizon Jetpack unlimited data plan that has no throttle, and you want to know if it's legit? Then make sure you read this post all the way to the end or watch my video for my review of the new Verizon no throttle prepaid plan and how you can quickly get it set up.
What's Different About This Plan?
Alright, so you've heard of this new Verizon Jetpack prepaid plan, and let's be honest, us digital nomads have been waiting a very long time for a plan like this.
It's something that we all talk about, and something that's been a much-needed thing for us as we travel around the world or travel in our RVs. So, here's the good news.
I think it's legit, but let's check it out and find out.
I'm going to give you all the details on this new Verizon prepaid Jetpack plan, I'm going to show you my speed test and my review, and I'm going to show you how to set this up easily.
Trust me; it was a little bit of a headache for me.
I had to talk to four different Verizon agents to get this set up, and some of them didn't even know that the plan existed.
Some of the agents want you to set up a new account, and some say you can put it on your existing account if you already have a Verizon account. Some of their information was true, and some of it was not exactly accurate; however, I finally got it all squared away.
So I'm going to show you what I learned through the process so that you can easily set it up online or go in and talk to an agent and get this set up for yourself.
Verizon Prepaid Jetpack Plan
Good news! This new plan is also truly unlimited.
Now, where this differs in comparison to the old plans, like the one that I have on my Verizon plan which is throttled – this one is not throttled – in other words, there's no cap on it which is good. That's a huge plus for all of us digital nomads.
The other thing is that it is $65 per month if you auto prepay for it. It's advertised on the website at $70, but there's a $5 discount if you prepay.
This plan is for Jetpack, so if you already have one of those hotspot devices than you can still use it – kind of – so keep reading where I tell you how to set it up.
Here's the clincher, and you probably knew there would be one.
It is network-managed.
I talked to the representative to find out exactly what that means. The Verizon representative told me about network management, and there are essentially three tiers of priority in network management.
Emergency vehicles like police and ambulances or firefighters will get the first priority.
They are in the top tier.
The second tier are people who are post-paid, which means you have a standard account and you don't prepay for it. A post-paid account, which is like the current plan that I'm on where I pay for my cell phone and hotspot each month with an invoice. Note this hotspot is throttled at 15 GBs.
The third priority is prepaid, which is what this prepaid plan is at Verizon. Prepaid is at the bottom of the barrel. I don't know why they do that; it doesn't make sense to me that they would differentiate tiers between people who pay by invoice versus prepaid.
We're all paying money into it, but that's how they network-manage.
So, of course, when the representative told me this, I was a little bit concerned because I certainly don't want to be bottom of the barrel, and there are a lot of people out there who have the regular post-paid accounts.
Being at the bottom of the tier as a prepaid customer, I was concerned that the network management was going to be too much and it was going to be as if I was throttled like on my existing plan. I went ahead and decided to get the prepaid account and go ahead and test it out so that I can find out if it's going to be better than my original account.
Then, I can make some decisions on the original hotspot that I have on my account already, which is still under contract.
Is It Really a No Throttle Data Plan?
So, the big question here is, does this plan work, and is it indeed a no throttle plan as they say? The short, general answer is – yes.
It has been working really, really well for me, except for one specific situation in the desert – which is a bit weird. So far in the two weeks that I've had the new Verizon plan, it's worked well.
I will say, I was very skeptical in the beginning about it. Which is why I wanted to test it and really put it through its paces by taking it to rural areas, to urban areas, and testing it at different times of the day. This way I could see what kind of speeds I was getting and when I would see that slow down due to the network management.
The first thing I did to be able to test the Verizon Jetpack plan is I suspended my current, existing hotspot account, which is attached to my cell phone plan. I suspended it temporarily for two months so that I could test out the new prepaid Verizon plan and also still use my current Jetpack since I didn't want to buy new equipment.
My cell phone plan is still working on my original account where my original hotspot line, on the same account, is suspended.
I had to set up a brand new account for the prepaid plan, and I got a new SIM card.
I could've just left the old, original hotspot as-is and still paid for that account and get a new Jetpack and a new SIM card. However; I wanted to use this existing Jetpack so that I didn't have to buy new equipment, especially in case I didn't like the plan, and it didn't work for me. So, we suspended the old account, opened a brand new account, got a new SIM card, and I was able to use that new SIM card in the old Jetpack because the old SIM card is not deactivated, but just suspended. The old Jetpack was able to recognize the new SIM card even though this is still under contract which can only happen if you suspend the other account.
That's how we worked it out to use the existing Jetpack.
Speed Test of the Verizon Prepaid Unlimited NO THROTTLE Plan
When I purchased the new prepaid plan, I was in Dana Point, California, and I was there for about a week with the new prepaid plan working, and I had phenomenal results. I was surprised by how good the results were considering I'm in this city with a lot of people, and it's Southern California in the Los Angeles area, which is a vast urban area.
I was again, very skeptical of this new plan and whether it would really work because of the network management, but it did work!
I was able to upload a YouTube video on it within 30 minutes, something that might have taken me an hour to an hour and a half using my AT&T hotspot. The AT&T cell signal wasn't getting good service there at that point in time. Verizon was a stronger carrier in that area, so it was great to see that it was able to upload a video, no problem whatsoever, in a very populated, urban area.
Fast forward another week, and I went to the desert and decided to test it out in that area. This particular area that I was in has great service for AT&T and Verizon, and I decided to go ahead and do some speed tests in the evening and in the morning to see what that was like.
So, the first test I did is the Verizon AM speed test. This test underperformed especially compared to what the speeds were when I was in Dana Point, California, although I did not get an actual speed test on the record like I am here.
AT&T speed test in the morning did very well and again, this may or may not be because of the cell tower strength here. It may just be that AT&T has a better signal in this rural area that I'm in versus Verizon. So it can't be considered conclusive that Verizon is network managing and not a great plan yet. I still have more testing to do.
The evening speed test produced similar results as the morning. Even though both carriers are working very well in this rural area, Verizon underperformed, which was pretty surprising considering how well it worked in an urban area. There are not very many people out here where I'm at in the desert, so I'm not sure why that is, but it was just an interesting thing to note, and we'll continue testing it.
How to Set-up the Verizon Prepaid Jetpack Plan
Whether you have an existing account or your not a Verizon customer at all, you'll want to set up a brand new account. Prepaid accounts need to have their own account, separate from an existing Verizon account that you may have already.
Setting Up a New Account for New Verizon Customer
If you are a new customer to Verizon, this is going to be pretty easy. You just go to their website, and you sign up for an account.
Then you'll need to pick out your actual Jetpack. Click ‘next steps,' ‘new customer,' and then you'll see different plans, but the one you want to select is the unlimited data for $70, although it is $65 for auto prepay.
Setting Up a New Account for Existing Verizon Customer
If you're an existing Verizon customer AND you want to use your existing Jetpack, this is where it can get a little bit tricky.
You can go through the same methodology with setting up a new account with one difference.
Using Your Existing Jetpack
If you're like me and you already have a Jetpack, and you want to use an existing Jetpack, then you will need to deactivate the old SIM card.
The only way to deactivate the card is to either get rid of that original line on your existing cell plan or suspend the account like I did to make sure it's what you want after testing it for a bit.
The Jetpack will only recognize one working SIM card according to Verizon if the other account is still under contract – which mine is under contract. You then have the option of paying off the contract and then deactivating that line if you think the new prepaid hotpot line is the one you'll keep.
If you still want to use your existing Jetpack, then these are the steps that you need to go through to make sure that your old Jetpack works with your new SIM card.
Once you know the steps to get the account set up, then it shouldn't be a problem for you whatsoever, even if you wanted to go into the store and get it all set up there. Just present to them exactly what I showed you on the website by going to the prepaid plans option, and then click on the one that says $70.
Remember, it's really $65, but it's a five dollar discount for auto prepaying.
Review of Verizon Prepaid No Throttle Plan – So Far
So far I really like what I see with the plan. I had that one exception in the rural area, but other than that, I was able to upload a video pretty quickly, so I'm pleased with those results.
It's still a little too early to tell right now if I'm going to stay with this plan. I'll be testing it for two months, so I will do a follow-up video/post review after that time to let you know my findings. I'll show you speed tests again and the places that it worked well, and the places that it did not work well.
Then we can decide if it's a plan that's worth keeping, or should I go back to my original hotspot contract and just use that particular account for my backup to my AT&T account.
As I mentioned a moment ago, I also have an AT&T hotspot in conjunction with my Verizon hotspot. I use both of hotspots as backups depending on the area, but I'm going to put together another video and post soon that shows exactly how I stay connected on the road in my camper van and how I work remotely as a digital nomad.
I'm curious if you all have already been set up on this prepaid plan, and if so, leave me a comment below. I'd love to hear what your thoughts are on it, what your findings have been. Are you using it a rural area or a city area? So, make sure you leave me a comment below if you've already signed up for this plan.
If you are looking to move into a Hymer Aktiv van, or you're looking to do a custom van build, read this post thoroughly and watch the video to find out the things that I like and I dislike after downsizing into my Hymer Aktiv van after owning a Class C RV.
And if you want more how-tos on full-time RVing or traveling around North America, then subscribe to my YouTube channel and hit that notification bell, so you'll be notified every time I upload a video each Thursday.
So I've lived in my Hymer Aktiv Class B van now for about six months, and I feel like I've gotten to know it enough to figure out the things that I really love about it, and the things that I feel like could be improved upon and changed.
So I get this question a lot, it's “Do you still like your Hymer Aktiv camper van?
Do you like the fact that you downsized from a Class C into a Class B?” A lot of times that comes with the question, “Why?” Or, “What do you still like about it?” Or, “What do you not like about it?” Or, “What would you change?”
So the broad answer to that question is yes, I love my van, and I have zero regrets about purchasing this particular Hymer Aktiv camper van, or downsizing into a Class B van from a Class C.
Pros of the Hymer Aktiv and What I Really Like About This Camper Van
So while the Class C probably felt a little bit homier because it had the couch and a full bathroom with a shower and a lot more storage, I didn't mind downsizing into the Class B. It felt like a natural progression and I've really taken on the minimalist attitude of purging things I don't need in order to travel more freely.
1. Freedom and Being Nimble
Downsizing into the Hymer Aktiv did give me that freedom to be able to travel wherever I want and get into regular parking spots – which was a huge plus for me. I don't have to research every place I wanted to go to now and make sure that my RV actually fits into that particular spot.
I don't know if you saw my Lost Coast travel video, but that particular quest drive that I did on the Lost Coast, you could not have done in a regular RV, a Class C or above, or anything above really about 23 feet. I'm at 20 feet, (technically 19 feet 7 inches) and that was even pushing it probably a little bit. It worked out just fine, but I wouldn't have been able to do that in my Class C.
So as you can see, there are certain places that you can and can't go if you're in those larger rigs. You have to decide what is best for you in that particular situation. I'm excited to take Atti (my Hymer Aktiv and short for Attraversiamo) to the East coast this next year. The East coast is so much more compact and it was pretty difficult this last year to maneuver around in my 26 foot Class C RV.
2. Ventilation Through Roof Vent
One of the things I really love about this particular camper van is that it has a roof vent that provides a significant amount of ventilation.
It does have a nightshade that you can pull back as well as a bug screen so you can open the roof vent and keep pesky bugs away while still allowing air flow. It has a hand crank to open up the roof vent all the way. It, however, doesn't have an automatic rain sensor like the Fantastic Fans so you have to be careful if there will be inclement weather and remember to shut the vent.
It does provide quite a bit of circulation, especially when you open up some of the other windows and turn on the Fantastic Fan in the bathroom that sucks air through the RV. Another great feature of this roof vent is you can actually climb up on the seats and poke your head through the vent and take a look at your solar panels to see how dirty they are. Mine are very dirty right now being close to the coast.
3. VoltStart System Specific to Hymer Aktiv
Another thing that I really love is the VoltStart system. This actually allows you to turn on your AC when you need it and run it as long as you'd like – well if you have enough gas in the vehicle.
There's a toggle button to the left of the steering wheel to engage the VoltStart system. I like to use the VoltStart system to turn the AC on if I need to make sure it's cool in the RV, so that Lily stays nice and comfortable. The other feature is that VoltStart actually monitors your lithium batteries to make sure that they're completely charged up in case something is drawing a lot of power for it, like the AC, or if you're using your water heater or your furnace on electric. It monitors your battery charge remaining and if it the batteries need to be charged more, VoltStart will turn on your underhood generator in your vehicle to charge those batteries.
4. Large Kitchen Counters Compared to My Previous Winnebago
The other thing that I really love about this space is my kitchen counter tops. It's all flat and flush.
The glass for the stove top and the glass for the sink is flush with the countertop. So it just seems to give you a lot more room when you're trying to prep food, and is much bigger than my Class C RV. The only thing that I think I would want to change about it is the faucet placements. It's kind of in the middle of the counter area and it would be nice if it was actually pushed back just a little, so that you didn't have to knock up against it when you're prepping food.
So other than that one thing, I really love my kitchen countertop space compared to my Class C. Just seems to have a lot more room.
5. Nightshades in Hymer Aktiv are Top Notch
So another item to add to my things that I really like is the fact that it has these great night shades. When you pull the shades down it's pretty dark and you can't see any light coming through those the screen at all.
So it does get nice and dark inside of the van when you have all of the nightshades closed. Coupled with the dark tint of the outside windows, you can see any light inside the van from the outside at night. It gets super dark in the Hymer with all the nightshades down so you can sleep at night.
My Class C van did not have these types of nightshades and instead let a lot of light inside. If you were outside, you could see inside and see shadows in here.
6. More Ventilation with Pop-Out Windows
Another thing I love about this RV is the ventilation from the pop-out windows. You can open up the side window all the way by pushing it out and up. There's an amazing breeze that you can get when it's fully open, especially when you open the sliding door and have the Fantastic Fan on inside. It's astounding how cool you can keep the Hymer Aktiv.
So this is what it looks like from the outside. You can see how popped out it is. I have some friends who have Class B Mercedes Sprinter vans, and they want these windows because theirs only pops out a little bit and doesn't fully extend like the Hymer Aktiv windows. Hymer did a great job on these particular windows.
Now, the back windows, for the bedrooms, don't pop out the same as the living room window. It pops out about 1/4 of the way, but you still get some incredible airflow, especially when you turn the Fantastic Fan on to provide more circulation of air.
7. Ease of Emptying the Cassette Toilet
Another huge plus of the Class B camper van, and in particular to the Hymer brand, because it's so new to North America, is the cassette toilet. The cassette toilet is very easy to dump, and you can empty it in so many different places. It makes it more versatile than dumping than the Class C RV because you don't have all of the hoses and everything that you have to store and connect.
And it's just much simpler inside the Class B van, because you can literally just take the cassette to a lot of different places to dump, whether it be pit toilets, regular toilets, inside of rest stops, inside of your typical places like sewer dump stations or RV parks to dump your tanks.
It just gives you a lot more options when you're emptying your cassette toilet on the road.
Before owning my Hymer Aktiv van, I had never used a Truma Combi system, and I will tell you that I am in love with it. It has some great features to it that make it high on my list of things I love about the Hymer Aktiv.
One of the things that I really, really love about it is that it's quiet.
So with my Class C RV that I had, when the furnace was on, you could hear it. It was loud.
With the Truma Combi, it's not loud at all. You can hear it a little bit when it kicks on and just because it's quiet doesn't mean that it's inefficient. It's very efficient. It gets nice and toasty in here, especially in the bathroom.
So here are the controls for the Truma Combi system.
So to turn on the furnace, we click the button when it's toggled to the picture of the RV. You have the option of using propane or electric or a mix. I generally use propane to conserve battery power throughout the date. You can turn the temperature gauge to whatever your desired temperature is and then let it go. It's very quiet when on the low speed. I never need to increase the speed of hot air as it warms up the Hymer Aktiv very quickly.
Now let's turn on the water heater. You also have the option of using propane, electric, or a mix.
The water heater temperature setting gives you an option of Eco, which is slower to heat and gets up to 100 degrees and Hot, which increases the water temperature to 140, or Boost which heats up the fastest to 140 degrees.
I discovered just this morning that you can not operate both the furnace and the water heater on propane IF the water heater is on boost. It shut off the furnace when I selected boost mode. So I instead turned the water heater to electric, on the boost mode, and left the furnace on propane. That worked.
It's nice to have the electric option which I didn't have on the Winnebago!
9. Front Swivel Captain's Chairs
So the next thing that I really, really love about this space is the two swivel chairs in the front. Now, it may seem weird that I love these two chairs, because when it's facing forward, but watch what happens when you turn it around.
It opens up the living space now. You have two more chairs for guests, and to be honest, I sit in the driver seat a lot when I'm working. You might also be wondering how comfortable these seats are. Well, it's quite comfortable. I've never had any issues with it being uncomfortable, and I've driven for long periods of time, I've sat in it for long periods of time working, and haven't had any problems whatsoever, or any aches and pains.
Even the bench seats have been nice and comfortable. It's very cushiony an even though it sits straight up like that, I love it.
10. Ease of Urban Camping
So one of the other things that I love about Hymer Aktiv is that, as I was saying earlier, it's very nimble, and it also allows you to stay in urban areas a lot more easily. So I've been in Southern California, in an urban area, for probably about a month now, and have no problems getting around.
Stealth camp if you want, or street park if it's allowed. I do make sure that anytime I am parking or stealth camping, that it is legal. Some people look at stealth camping as parking in places where it's illegal to park and trying to get away with it. Maybe that's the technical definition; I don't know. Stealth camping, to me, is parking in particular areas where you just don't want people to see that you're inside.
So again, I make sure that it's completely legal.
11. Bringing the Outdoors Inside with the Backdoors
The other thing that I love about this is this view, opening up the backdoors to the bedroom area. It's pretty incredible. You can't do this in a Class C like my previous RV.
The doors open up pretty wide.
You can lay in bed, watch the sunset or sunrise. Read. Work. It's just a pretty incredible feature to have especially when you're in a gorgeous area to boondock.
Cons or “Needs Improvement” of the Hymer Aktiv Camper Van
So now let's talk about the things that I don't really like about the Hymer Aktiv, or that I would like to see some improvement upon, whether that mean that I do the improvement myself, or whether Hymer will do an improvement in the future on the Hymer Aktiv vans.
1. Refrigerator is Difficult to Get Into
One of the things I don't like about this Hymer Aktiv van is the refrigerator. It's relatively small, which I knew, but what makes it difficult is this is a galley kitchen, and it's a little bit difficult to get in and out of here. The door opens up to the right requiring you to bend down low to the ground to find your food. It's difficult to see anything on the bottom shelf and in the back.
It would have been better to install a refrigerator with sliding drawer like the marine grade Isotherms. My workaround for this was to purchase clear organizers that I can slide in and out of the fridge. It made a huge difference and is much more manageable now.
2. Shower Faucet Poorly Designed for the Bathroom
All right, so now we are in the bathroom, and one of the things that I do not use is the shower feature. The faucet/shower nozzle does not have an on/off switch to keep it on or to keep it off to do a military shower.
It also gets everything very wet in here, so even though it has this curtain that you can move over to protect the back wall it gets everything else wet. The other thing is that it has this little hole in the shower curtain so that you can put the nozzle through it.
So in order to conserve water, which you have to do when boondocking so you don't run out of water, you have to stick your hand through the shower curtain hole to turn the faucet on and off, and then slide your hand out, pick up the shower head, rinse yourself off, put it back down, slide your hand back into the hole in the curtain, and shut off the water.
There needs to be a shut off valve on the head of the faucet/shower head.
So it's just a really poorly thought out design, especially for people who are full-time RVing and would love to use this as a shower. It also would have been better to have a shower head attachment on the ceiling so you could use the same faucet/shower head to latch to latch at the top or down below.
This is probably something I could do on my own and fix it, but I don't even take showers in here anymore, just because it's been such a pain.
Instead, I bought a gym membership, and I go to the gym, work out, and take a shower or I utilize state parks, recreation centers, or any place that has public showers – even truck stops.
You'd be surprised, that truck stops have some nice showers. Some of them are like spas when you go in there. I even took a picture one time to show everybody what it looks like, the caption was, “Is this a spa, or is this a truck stop?” Guess which one they picked? They thought it was a spa.
3. Hymer Aktiv Ground Clearance – Underhood Generator
All right, so let's talk about ground clearance now. When I bought the Hymer Aktiv van, I knew that it was a bit lower than the Mercedes Sprinter van, which is another popular van when you're looking at Class Bs to do customizations. So I was okay with that. I knew that it was a little bit lower, but I didn't think it was going to be too much of a problem.
However, there's a couple of things that I don't like since I've purchased it.
One of the items is the underhood generator.
Here is the underhood generator with the black covering over it and close to the front bumper.
It's so close to the bumper that when you pull forward into a parking space, you can hit curbs with it because it's so low – and yes, I have done that! Unfortunately, nobody at the service department clued me into this when they were doing the walkthrough with me. I only discovered it through other Hymer Aktiv owners.
That is a major disaster waiting to happen. You can bust your underhood generator very easily with the placement in the front like this, even with that cover on it.
You would think that Hymer would put it in a place where it wouldn't obstruct your ability to park and damage the underhood generator.
4. Hymer Aktiv Ground Clearance – Propane Tank
So the other item is the propane tank that is low to the ground. The propane tank lives under the right side of the Hymer Aktiv just behind the sliding step and under the black plastic skirting.
You can see how low it is to the ground, and the unfortunate part is that the valve with the yellow cover is where you fill up the propane tank. That valve — I don't know if you can tell — is pointing at an angle towards the ground instead of straight out.
So what happens is, when they try to fill the propane tank, their hose attachment is hitting the ground. It's very difficult to fit the propane hose onto the intake valve.
The propane tank issue probably perplexes me the most – well, it may be the underhood generator too. I don't know why Hymer put that valve stem where it's at an angle, because it is tough to get the propane fill nozzle onto it.
I've looked at different ways of trying to fix it, so far I haven't figured out a way to do that. But the only manual way to do it, is to one, hope that when you go to fill up, that the concrete is a little bit on a curve or a slant. The other way to do it is to get some small blocks to roll your wheels up onto so that you're a little bit more elevated.
5. Sliding Screen Door – Love/Hate Relationship
So the next item is a pro and a con and it's a little bit of a love/hate relationship.
It is the screen door. Everybody loves this screen door – including me – but it is tough to open and close. So much so that I don't allow anybody to touch it. I'd rather do it myself because it's so hard to open and close. You have to figure out the right way to do it, and I don't want people to damage it accidentally.
It is nice, and it keeps the bugs out and keeps Lily inside.
You would think the natural, and easy place to open the door is at about waist level, but it's not. You have to slide your hand down towards the ground and push or pull it at the bottom where the plastic glide for the sliding door track is located. Then it opens very easily at that point.
This track, for whatever reason, is just challenging. I don't know why it's just so tricky, but it is, and it's not like you can put lubricant or anything on there to make it easier it's just the way that it's made. So yes, it's a love/hate relationship.
6. Bathroom Sink Placement
So the other item that I could do without is this bathroom sink. You would think it would be alright; it folds up against the wall, it's nice and tidy, organized, right? But every time you want to use it, you have to hit a little lever, and it pops down, and you have a sink.
It's great, except that it's very, very difficult to clean. There's this little trough, if you will, down at the bottom of the sink, and to clean it, you have to remove the whole folding down sink to gain access to the trough.
So I don't use it. I instead opt for the kitchen sink where I brush my teeth and wash my hair and face. If I were to customize this van more, I would not have the shower nor the sink, just a toilet. I most likely would also take down the walls to open up the space some more.
7. USB Plugs Use AC Power Instead of DC Power
Okay, so the next item that I wish were different is the USB plugs. Don't get me wrong; I love having USB plugs. However, you have to turn the inverter on to use it since Hymer connected the USB plugs to AC power rather than DC.
That seems a little weird to me, and maybe it's because in my Class C RV, I had USB plugs on DC power, so I didn't have to turn on the inverter to get power to the USB plugs.
There is a USB right over the dinette table, one under the kitchen counter area, and another USB over the corner by the bed, but it's hidden by part of the mattress. Another thing, they should have done is moved that plug up higher, so that it's higher than the bed frame and the mattress.
8. Awkward Kitchen Table Fold Out
So another thing that I would like to see improvement on is the kitchen table. Now, I like this kitchen table. It was one of the selling features because it can either be a half table or extend to a full table by folding it out.
It's great for when you have guests or using it has a desk and workspace.
The problem is that to extend the table from the folding position; you have to raise the folded part upwards which means that anything you have on the table will fall off unless you move it. I always have my table filled with my hotspot, my weBoost antenna, pens, computer, books, phone, and chargers, so it's a pain to extend it.
Once extended it's nice and large, and I love that about it the table. I wish it actually would extend out from either underneath, or it'd be nice if it slid out and then pushed up so that it's flush with the other side of the table, and then locks in place.
That's really just a minor annoyance with the table, but I use it a lot, and so it's just a small thing that I wish would be different, and something that I might also customize later on.
9. Spare Tire Placement
The last thing that I believe needs improvement is the spare tire placement. If you've been watching my videos, you know that I took my spare tire off and many people gave me condemned for it. It was a personal preference.
I couldn't get into my back door very easily, which I get into them all the time, so I decided to remove it. I don't even carry one at all.
Now, when I had my Class C RV, it didn't even have a spare tire either, and manufacturers are making RVs, a lot of times, without these spare tires. I do have roadside assistance, so if I ever have an issue, I'll call them, or ask for help if I don't have cell signal somewhere and get somebody out there to help me.
So the whole reason why I took the spare tire off, is because the spare tire was sitting in front of the back, left door and mounted to a secondary hitch. To access the left back door, you had to put the spare into its down position. Well, that thing weighs about 70 pounds and is very heavy and awkward to use.
What would have been nice, is if it had a swing-away hitch so that it could swing-away from the door, and you didn't have to put it in a down position. Now, I have seen some hitches that will attach somehow to these door brackets and bumpers; however, I don't think the bumper on the Hymer Aktiv could accommodate a swing-away hitch.
It would be nice if I could find a hitch mounted swing-away arm for a spare tire.
So you see it's not that I didn't want a spare, it's just that it wasn't very manageable for me. So if I could get that swing-away arm and be able to attach a spare tire again, I would really, really love that. So we'll see what happens with that, and I'll let you know in the future if I do get that swing-away hitch and find one that works for that particular area.
So all of these things that I have shared with you about the things that I really love about my Class B Hymer Aktiv, and the things that I would improve upon, are things that I have discovered in my first six months of owning this Hymer Aktiv van, and downsizing from that Class C to the Class B.
I'll probably do another followup in a year, to show you some of the changes and modifications that I've made, and hopefully, have attached another spare tire.
So now that you know the things that I love and want to improve upon in my van, if you're looking to full-time RV and want to learn some more information about how full-time RV, then we're having an event called the Full-Time Freedom Week, where I'm actually going to teach on solo RVing.
I get a lot of questions about solo travel and all of the different concerns that people have about solo RVing. I'll be guest speaking on solo travel along with 30 other RVers who are experts in their field. They'll be talking about all the things that you need to know, from what gear to use, maybe what RV you need to get, helping you discover that, and working full-time on the road, how to remote work, all kinds of topics.
So if you liked this post and video, please let me know by sharing it with your family and friends, and commenting below, “I like that van” if you're thinking about buying a van and joining the van life community.
What a fantastic adventure on the Pacific Coast Highway on this California Coast road trip in my Hymer Aktiv van! I've spent almost the entire Summer season and now well into Fall on the West Coast and along the Pacific Coast Highway overlooking the ocean.
I've loved every minute of it and I'll be sad when I start to turn inland and away from the ocean and her coastal beauty.
Being near the water and her dynamic energy is soothing and energizing at the same time. I enjoy how I feel around her and the colors she displays from one boondocking spot to the next.
Boondocking for Several Weeks North of Fort Bragg, California
I lucked out on this spot. It was the only overlook that had a cell signal strong enough for me to work (only if I was using the weBoost cell booster) and even upload videos. It was a large overlook and not close to the highway, so I didn't feel each vehicle pass me by.
The sunsets were incredible every night.
I was relaxed and enjoying the beauty of my surroundings and the night sky lit up with bright stars.
Sometimes I have to pinch myself knowing that this is my life – a life that I've actively created and one where I've fulfilled my biggest dreams! I guess I need to get some more dreams and goals too.
Just down the highway is public restrooms by the beach, so I utilized that to dump my cassette toilet a couple of times. There was also trash bins that I made use of as well. Those are the two main concerns when boondocking in my van. My fresh water tank and grey water tank are large enough that I only need to fill and dump every three weeks roughly.
I know how to conserve very well though and am careful with my water consumption.
After a couple of weeks of enjoying this beautiful area, I left to meet up with Maury from Traveling Solo and caravan down the Pacific Coast Highway with him for several days. He also owns a Hymer Akitv van that happens also to be white like mine.
Glass Beach in Fort Bragg, California
Once I got into Fort Bragg; about 30 minutes from my boondocking spot, it was time for errands.
I dumped the tanks.
Filled up with fresh water.
Gave Atti (my Hymer and short for “attraversiamo”) a much-needed bath as I could barely see out of the side windows. I may or may not have almost taken the skin off my hand while washing the van. There was a spot on the van that wouldn't come clean, and I went to rub it with my fingers at the same time I was spraying water on it. I thought I had messed up my hand. It hurt pretty bad!
Note to self, keep hands and limbs away from high-pressure water unless I'd like to give myself a “peel” for free – or the cost of a car wash!
…and I stocked up on some groceries.
Then headed to the local recreation center for a much-desired shower. Standing under hot water is something I miss that I don't get in the van. Oh well. It's a small price to pay for having everything else be amazing.
Glass Beach came to be from it being a former dumping ground. The glass would break from being thrown about by water against the rocks and over time turned into these glass pebbles that were smooth and looked like little gemstone rocks.
After scouring around the beaches and traversing over rocks, we, unfortunately, didn't seem to find much of this glass on the beach after all. We saw a few little pieces every once and a while, but it didn't look like the pictures we've seen online.
To make matters worse, I somehow lost my Joby Gorillapod when I had my camera slung over my shoulder. I tried to go back and find it, but it was gone.
Mendocino State Park
Continuing down the Pacific Coast Highway, we headed over to Mendocino State Park. What a beautiful sight with the jagged edge rock formations and the water was this blue and green color, almost like what I've seen in the Bahamas.
We watched the waves crash against the rocks, and the ocean water follow the path as far as she could go in between rocks, over rocks, until she came crashing into the cliffs.
California condors were flying overhead, and I'm pretty sure one had his sights on Lily. He was flying in fast and low. I was shocked at how low he was. We were walking back to the vans when it happened so I scooped her up, even though she was on a leash, in case that bird thought he could get close enough, even with us there, to attack her.
We didn't stay in Mendocino too long. We had a pretty long travel day and kept pushing forward. It was starting to get a little chilly up north, especially at nights and the fog was starting to stay around a little longer, so time to head even further south. We also needed to make sure we found a place to overnight before dark.
The goal with trying to find overnight spots is for it to be off of the ocean somewhere. It's pretty easy to do, for the most part, around the Pacific Coast Highway until you get closer to larger cities.
Point Arena Lighthouse and Overnight Camping
After driving the California Coast and stopping at local beaches and overlooks, we settled on Point Arena Lighthouse as our overnight spot. There's a winding road that takes you from Highway One to the lighthouse with several parking areas overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
We immediately found a great spot and made sure the lighthouse was closed before we claimed a gravel parking area for our overnight camping spot.
Again, I feel so fortunate to be in this area and have these lands available to us to gaze in wonder and allow us to camp overnight.
Point Arena was especially interesting for its unique strata, sandstone rock formations, some of which tilt slightly in towards the coast with this almost symmetrical pattern.
I made some split pea soup for dinner and watched the sun go down and create this picturesque glow off of the ocean. I seem never to get tired of a sunset or how it shapes itself onto the water. It's different every night yet comfortable in the way you know you can count on it to amaze you with its wonder.
We only stayed here one night so we could keep traveling south. The goal was to make it to San Francisco today and do some sightseeing there. It's been a while since I'd been in the city, so I was looking forward to exploring.
Gualala Regional State Park
We came across this interesting regional park in Sonoma County where there were large wooden carvings dedicated to Siberian ancestors during the Summer Solistace of 2014.
The logs were brought onsite and then carved there into ceremonial hitching posts in this sacred site by Master Carvers from Yakutsk, the capital city of the Sakha Republic in Siberia.
These posts are called Sergeh's and are typically placed near homes as a way to ward off the harsh winters in Siberia.
What a treat to witness the beauty of these Master Carvers and skills and the intricacies of the Sergeh posts.
Winding Roads & Extreme Marine Layer
Pushing on we kept heading south down Highway 1 where we encountered everything from winding roads, beautiful forested areas inland, coastline roads, and lots of marine layers.
Signs suggest that no vehicles over 40 feet should be traveling along this coastline and suggest that all vehicles be under 35 feet. I couldn't imagine doing anything much bigger than my 20-foot van. We even saw deep scratches in the roads on some of the switchbacks turns where RVs or trucks trying to take the turn bottomed out. I imagine the hitch was what was hitting – I hope.
The fog and marine layer at the top of some of the Pacific Coast Highway peaks were just breathtaking. It was like this blanket of clouds, and we were actually above it in some areas. I could see the clouds float by quickly just over my head where I could reach out and touch it.
We attempted to see Goat Rock State Park, but there was so much fog we could barely even see down to the ocean. So onward we went further south through Bodega Bay and other small little towns off of Tomales Bay.
San Francisco, California Overnight Dry Camping
It wasn't long before we headed back inland and on into San Francisco where we stopped for the night to rest. We found a visitor center on the southwest side of the Golden Gate Bridge to overnight. Unfortunately, you couldn't access it until you traveled over the bridge, so we had to turn around and go back over and then head into the visitor center. It's $8 one way so in all we paid $16 since we had to travel back over it the next morning to continue south.
It was worth the $16 considering we didn't have many overnight options for parking unless we tried to find some stealth parking. By that time though my arms and shoulders weren't feeling so great from navigating around all the winding roads.
The visitor center was quite the experience. It was full when we arrived during daylight with a lot of cars and people visiting the Golden Gate Bridge.
What a hot mess!
It did quiet down, around midnight, and the parking lot cleared, except for maybe 5 or 6 other campervans. I didn't see anything bigger than a campervan, and it would have been hard to park in that area.
It was free, so it worked out well.
What has your experience been traveling along the Pacific Coast Highway? Have you tried boondocking in any of the overlooks?
Road Conditions: Roads were clear, but really windy, with switchbacks, and narrow areas.
Weather Conditions: Chilly at night, sunny during the day with some marine layer/fog.
Time of Year Visited: Mid October
Overnights & Places Visited
Overlook off of highway 101 Westport, California / $0
Boondocking at Point Arena Lighthouse, Point Arena, California / $0
Dry camping at San Francisco Visitor Center / $0
Glass Beach – Fort Bragg, California / $0
Mendocino State Park – Mendocino, California / $0
Local Beaches / $0
Gualala Regional State Park / $0
Point Arena Lighthouse / $0
Golden Gate Bridge – San Francisco, CA / $8 round trip
Signs state no RVs over 40 feet and that recommended RV is 35 feet or less.
Cell Phone Signal Strength: Some areas were great and some had no cell signal. It was very spotty, but there were enough small towns in between that it wasn't an issue. AT&T was stronger than Verizon and you'll definitely need a cell booster, like the weBoost that I use, to get a better signal if you'll be working or watching movies.
Traveling on the Lost Coast Trail in California was one of the most challenging roads I've ever driven since starting my RV journey – even more challenging than the Lake Tahoe Loop without guardrails in a 26 foot RV.
This trip all started in Crescent City, California just after you pass over the Oregon and California border on Highway 101.
If you've been following along on the journey since summer, I've been traveling down the entire Pacific Coast Highway from Washington to Oregon, and then now into California. For this summer season, I wanted to show the entire Pacific Coast Highway, Highway 101 and Highway 1, from north to south, with some quest trips in between.
It's one of my favorite places to travel with a plethora of boondocking spots right near the ocean.
Crescent City, California
Crescent City wasn't one of my favorite places to hang out, though the coastline is pretty with some beautiful scenery.
I just wasn't thoroughly impressed with the city. Maybe it's because I was expecting more from the first city you see when entering California.
It was pretty run down in the areas I saw and I didn't see a place just in town to overnight, so I stayed at a free casino just north of Crescent City for a couple of days before making the trek south, but not before capturing some beautiful scenery around Point Saint George.
Trinidad and Eureka, California
I was hoping to find an overnight spot by the ocean before getting to Eureka, California, but no such luck.
I stopped in Trinidad at a place that was on one of my apps, but it was a bit sketchy and very tiny place with too many other people around, so I skipped it and kept going.
The view was pretty incredible though from Moonstone Bay which is popular for surfers.
Lily and I stopped at Trees of Mystery to visit the massive statue of Paul Bunyon and Babe, so Lily could get her picture taken with all his furry friends.
Then off we went again where we landed in McKinleyville for three days to work before going to the Lost Coast. I figured I wouldn't have a cell signal there in the Lost Coast and wasn't sure how long I might be on the trail.
Sheriff Knocks on My Door
I ended up just on the outskirts of this neighborhood where I could park for free, and that's where I stayed for three days.
I would walk around the coastal trails for exercise and then get back to work and keep repeating.
On the third day I was there, I was just waking up when there was a knock on my door.
It was the sheriff.
Apparently one of the neighbors had called to report a suspicious van in the neighborhood. I usually wouldn't stay in neighborhoods that long but it was right on the cusp of the community and next to a parking area for people wanting to walk the coastal trail. So I figured it was ok.
Anyway, he was very friendly and chatted with me about what I was doing in the area and how long I intended to stay. He also told me that in that area it was okay to stay for ten days without moving and that in all of California, it's not illegal to live in your vehicle.
I let him that I was actually leaving that morning and was just getting up, but he invited me to stay longer. I got a bit of a kick out of the whole thing because it was my first time somebody turning me into the cops and the cops were super chill about it.
Lost Coast Trail
The Lost Coast trail starts in Ferndale, California and travels along Mattole Road, winding, twisting, turning, through forest, pastures, along with the coastline, and back to Highway 101.
The two-lane road was one of the worst roads I've ever driven on with potholes and severe rough terrain.
Lost Coast gets its name from being the coastline in California that isn't explored frequently from travelers due to its rough, rugged, and steep terrain where major roads have yet to conquer. It's one of the reasons Highway 101 cuts inland and by-passes this area altogether.
I should have known how bad it was going to be just by the name, but I didn't expect the 2-lane road to be so rough throughout.
What You'll Find on the Lost Coast Trail
The Lost Coast is indeed a spectacular place despite the rough ride in and out. It's an experience like no other and one you won't forget for a long time.
Lost Coast Features:
Seriously steep inclines
Tight switchback turns
Roughest road with potholes everywhere
Roads weren't graded for frequent traffic, so steep inclines and declines were common
Breathtaking views of the hillsides and ocean
Cows – yes cows
So remote that I might have seen five people over 60 miles
Beachside views of the ocean and rocks
Redwoods at the end
Would I do this drive again?
No, not in my van or an RV.
If I had a Jeep, I would travel it again, and the experience might be much different. It took me over four hours to drive the 67 miles due to how bad the roads were, and the steep inclines and declines and extreme switchback turns.
There's no cell service out there and very few people you see on the road – so if you pop a tire be prepared to wait for help or change it yourself if you have a spare.
I, of course, was thinking of how I decided to get rid of my spare tire because it's such a pain to open up the back doors with it on the hitch. Then so many people gave me a hard time doing that.
All I could think was, “Please don't let this be the moment where I get a flat without being able to call for help!”
That would have been highly unfortunate.
Thankfully nothing like that happened, and I got through it, but the whole event rattled me a bit. Most of my nervousness was due to dodging potholes 95% of the time I was on the road, the steep declines where I was in second gear and still having to apply the brake the entire way down and not being able to let up because the aging road was twisting and turning all the way down. I just kept hoping that the brakes would burn up.
I also saw cows grazing along the hillside and we had this moment of me looking at him and him looking at me. I think we locked eyes and pretty sure he was wondering what I was doing there on this crazy ride.
At the very top of the peak, at about 1,250 feet in elevation, you could see the expanse of the hills, cliffs, and then the beautiful ocean. It was rather cold up there as well, especially with the wind.
Once I arrived on the actual Lost Coast overlooking the ocean and the craggy rocks below, it was breathtaking and felt so amazing to sit and take in the beauty and nature around. The wind was pretty fierce that day and, if you saw my video, my hair was a hot mess!
There was even a bridge with wooden planks laid out to cross the bridge – which of course frightened me especially after my nerves were already shot from the crazy drive from before with the van rattling all over the place, dodging potholes and rough roads.
The Surprise at the End
After driving for four hours, I was rewarded at the end with this breathtaking drive through a redwoods forest where the trees loomed high over the street, and it suddenly seemed like it dusk at night in the forest.
I was so glad to see the Redwoods – not only for the gorgeous view, but I knew Highway 101 was near.
My GPS had stopped working because it couldn't get a signal and the cell phone didn't work either so a majority of the time I had no idea how much further I had before civilization again. It was like being in part of the country that was untouched, without mansions hovering along the coastline. There's not shops, no restaurants, no grocery, or gas. It's just you, the rough road, and nature.
I'm so glad I had the SumoSprings bumpstops installed prior to this drive. The SumoSprings helped to prevent the sway when tackling these tight turns and corners – I didn't feel like I was tilting to one side during the turn anymore.
Searching for a Boondocking Spot
After that long day of driving and my shoulders and back hurting from the constant active driving, I wanted nothing more to rest and stop driving. However, I had a difficult time finding a place to boondock in the area I was in so I decided to push forward another hour and 40 minutes, down Highway 101, turn west onto Highway 1, go through another Redwoods forest for 40 minutes, and then hit the coastline again.
So that's what I did.
All I wanted was to see the sunset that night over the ocean, wake up the next morning to the ocean, and just relax. No driving for a couple of days at least.
Finally, just before sunset, I arrived on the Pacific Coast of Highway 1 and was met with a glorious sunset and almost immediately found a great boondocking spot with cell coverage.
Oh, what I sight to see!
I couldn't believe when the ocean started to appear, and I was getting closer and closer. My heart was beating a little faster, and I was thrilled in anticipation of being able to rest next to the ocean for the night.
My happy place! It was a perfect end to a crazy day.
Have you traveled the Lost Coast Trail? What's the worst road you've ever traveled and would never do again?
Road Conditions: Roads aggressively rough, filled with potholes, bumps. I had to constantly go into the other lane to avoid.
Weather Conditions: A bit chilly at the highest elevation of 1,250 feet, but otherwise warm, but windy.
Time of Year Visited: Early October
Overnights & Places Visited
Lucky 7 Casino, Crescent City, California / $0
Stealth camping in McKinleyville, California / $0
Stealth camping in Motel 6 parking lot in Eureka, California / $0 (not something I would typically do, but there was a lack of, what I felt were safe areas on the streets)
Overlook by the ocean Westport, CA / $0
Coastal beaches and overlooks / $0
Lost Coast Trail / $0
Trees of Mystery / $0
Along Highway 101 any rig would be okay.
Lost Coast trail you should be 20 feet and under and preferably a passenger vehicle.
Highway 1 is very curvy, switchbacks, tight turns. I wouldn't suggest anything bigger than 30 feet, but some have pulled trailers through, but it's slow going and pretty tight.
Cell Phone Signal Strength: Cell signal was very sporadic throughout and I had no signal on the Lost Coast nor going through the Redwoods. Verizon was stronger than AT&T and you'll definitely need a cell booster, like the weBoost that I use, to get a better signal if you'll be working or watching movies.
One of the things I noticed after purchasing the Hymer Aktiv van is the sway when you turn corners or when you go over bumps. I discovered SumoSprings bumpstops for the rear and spring coils for the front from other Hymer owners who had installed as well.
I hadn't owned the Hymer Akitv too long when I noticed that going around corners I would take them slower to feel like I'm not tipping a bit to one side. I'm sure this is the case with many vans and RVs; however, I thought it could be more comfortable.
Not having the SumoSpring bumpstops wasn't horrible by any means, it's that it could be better and have a better ride.
The SumoSprings bumpstops on the rear will provide a stiffer ride, so the van doesn't sway to one side or the other when turning corners as much. It will also reduce the bounce when going over bumps.
The third advantage to the SumoSprings installation is that it gives you a one-inch lift in the rear. Considering how low to the ground the Hymer is – having that extra one-inch clearance is worth the installation.
Installing the front SumoSprings coils will provide a more rigid ride but also might give you about a 3/4 inch lift. Fingers crossed.
SumoSprings Installation Before & After
I found a company, Oakmont Service Center, while I was in Eugene, Oregon that could install the SumoSprings bumpstops on the rear and also the front SumoSprings coil which also will help to provide a more rigid ride.
Jacob did a fantastic job of installing the SumoSprings. He first read through all the instructions thoroughly, did a couple of tests before permanently seating the coil and the bumptops.
Before installing I measured both the rear and front from the ground to the bottom of the wheel well molding to see how much lift I received after installing.
I had heard differing stories on whether you could gain ground clearance on the front. Some people said they didn't get any lift and others stated about 3/4 of an inch. I was hoping for something – anything- because the underhood generator is too close to the ground already and scrapes on the curb when pulling into parking spaces. Now I mostly backup into spaces so I don't accidentally damage the underhood generator.
After installing the front coil springs, it didn't provide any additional lift which is a huge bummer. However, the rear SumoSprings bumpstops provided an extra one-inch lift. Not only was it lifted one inch, but it also prevented that sway I was getting when turning corners.
I have to say it's so much better now and I'm super happy with the SumoSprings.
I gave it a good workout while traveling down Highway 101 and 1 along the Pacific Coast Highway through California. I'm happy I had the SumoSprings installed before tackling that drive.
Long-Term Use of SumoSprings
The maintenance techs had a concern that the bumpstops were touching the suspension which apparently can make the bumpstops wear down and might need replacing over time. My understanding was that SumoSprings were produced to be tough enough to handle the friction and were made to touch the suspension.
I'll provide an updated SumoSprings review after a year to see if there are any changes to the bumpstops.
Have you installed the SumoSprings bumpstops to your van or RV? What did you think about it long term?
The last several months I've had a steady increase in my passive income each month; however this month it has declined, but I knew it probably would. There's a couple of reasons that factored into why both total income and passive income decreased, but I was aware active income would decline and was relatively certain passive income would fall.
Sometimes there are ebbs and flows of a business and it's important to understand why and to plan accordingly.
My goal in revealing my income each month through income reports is to show you the progression and hopefully provide some inspiration or little nuggets of information that helps you in your journey.
After traveling for a year, full-time, I wanted more freedom, and I was working 60-80 hours a week. I was considerably stressed even though I love this company that I worked for – but the pace was starting to get to me, and I just felt like I needed a change. I was documenting my travels on the blog and YouTube and was able to tap into my creative side again – something I hadn't used in a while – and it felt great and nourishing to my soul.
I took the BIG LEAP and quit so I can focus my attention on my endeavors in business – like building my online business and coaching/consulting practice. Even though I was working remotely this whole time – I still felt that I needed a change.
Now I'm even more location independent because I don't always have to stress about making sure there is an Internet connection – even though I depend on it for my own business – at least for a couple of days. I can relax more and take in the landscape in places that are more remote and not feel like I need to rush through it to make sure I'm available for my job.
It's exciting, thrilling, and a little nerve-wracking, but I feel thrilled with my decision and am pushing forward!
Why Am I Sharing My September 2018 Income Report?
Sharing what I earn each month and from what sources will not only allow me to document my income but also to see the growth or where I need to make adjustments. It's motivating for me to see how far I can push myself each month to be creative and reach my goals.
I have a vision in my head of what I want to create, but that also means listening to you, the Story Chasing viewers, to get your feedback and understand more of what you desire in order fulfill your dream journey.
I want to be the example, the experiment, to you all so you can see that you can also accomplish your desires. Who knows how long it will take me to reach my overall goal of replacing my former income, but as long as I don't quit, I don't see how I can't win at this little experiment.
Each month I'll post in the income report:
Monthly earnings for the month
Percentage of increase/decrease month-over-month
Sources of income (when I'm able to be transparent)
Monthly and annual goals
I hope by posting my income report that it provides you with some inspiration as to what's possible for you and your journey. My biggest hope is that I can share with you all a different lifestyle that's not necessarily the “social norm,” but that is entirely enriching and makes me feel more alive than I've ever felt. This is why I named my blog and YouTube channel Story Chasing.
It makes me pretty happy to create new stories and moments in my life and fill my brain with these special memories of my travels and the people who I've met along the way.
September 2018 Income Report – Working Remotely While Traveling Full Time
July was my first month after quitting my job so the September 2018 income report will be my third income report since starting to work full-time in my own business while also traveling full-time.
I have the StoryChasing.com blog and also the YouTube channel – which by the way, if you like what you see on my YouTube channel, please hit that subscribe button and click on the notification bell so you’ll know when I upload a video each week.
My Goals and Business Insights for the September 2018 Income Report
After taking some rest time in July, the month after I quit my job, I got busy in August accomplishing more and understanding more of what I wanted to communicate through my channels while still traveling and editing videos. In September, it was more about organization and prepping for efficiencies and work ahead.
September 2018 Income Report Editorial Calendar Goal
I set a goal to fill in an editorial calendar through the end of the year and accomplished this goal. I took some time to determine what content I knew needed producing with quest videos, everyday travel videos, income report videos, and then in between would be how-to videos.
It makes the process easier of knowing what content I'll be producing in the future so I can stay on track, make sure I get the shots that I need during filming and specific areas of my travels and prepare me for my next goal of learning batch process workflow.
Batch Process Workflow Goal
I seriously needed to figure out a way to create more efficiencies with the process of editing videos, blog posts, SEO research, and all the steps in between to provide the finished product of a video and blog post. Doing one video/post at a time is not efficient and takes up a considerable amount of time each week.
In my endeavor to create more efficiencies, I started to look at how to batch process the workflow so I am spending less time with work and more time traveling and diving into the Story Chasing community.
It was an exciting process to determine the best course of action, but I think I've come up with a good game plan and feel that it's already starting to help me.
YouTube Subscriber Goal
My goal for September was to continue working towards increasing to 5,000 subscribers on YouTube.
I'm slowly getting there. We gained 384 subscribers to the community for an ending total of 4,715 subscribers on YouTube.
It's climbing steadily!
I'm so happy with that number. Again, I'm going to keep on pushing through, producing content that you all can connect with, I hope, and numbers will continue to grow.
Slowing Down Goal
I must have mastered the art of slowing down because I was just recently called “pokey” by a fellow nomad, uh um, Joe.
Well, I can't help myself when I'm enjoying these lovely views of the Pacific ocean and incredible sunsets. So, Pokey it is!
It was tough slowing down after leaving the rat race – I guess because I've been doing it so long, but I'm finally taking better care of myself, enjoying the journey more, and I'm so much happier for it. I wouldn't change a thing about my pokiness. lol
If you're new to my blog, here's a little bit about me and what I do.
From the beginning, I documented my travels across the United States and Canada, through photos and video, so I could show that I've completed all 300 highways and byways. I'm the sole traveler, writer and videographer, marketer, editor, administrator, accountant, driver and whatever other hat is thrown my way in this adventure.
I travel with my fur baby, Lily, who is a 10 lb Whippet, Chi, Rat Terrier mix and a fantastic traveler with her car seat so she can see outside and be safe in her harness that clips into the seat.
Over the course of my travels, I get asked quite a bit if I'm fearful to travel solo. I even made a video about it and how I overcome fear. It's been one of my more popular videos because I believe it addresses a fear that we all have – whether you're a man or a woman – about being by yourself and living in this world without subjecting ourselves to the constant fear of others and media. I've discovered that the world out there is kinder and more beautiful than I anticipated and that I'm also much stronger than I ever imagined. I've conquered plenty of fears this year, but I believe those fears are just opportunities to overcome and the greatest success and reward are on the other side of that fear.
I have worked in some capacity in Accounting since I was 17 years old and earned a Bachelor's Degree in Accountancy and am a Certified Financial Crimes Investigator. Most of my career I was working in property management, construction, and real estate with the last company being a Private Equity Firm specializing in acquisitions and development of multi-family housing where I was the Director of Asset Management Accounting. Though I loved my job, the company, and the people I worked with, I knew it was time for a change and to see what I could do with my own company.
I've been blogging on and off for over eight years and have created many websites and blogs and learned quite a bit about making money online. I just needed to figure out what I wanted to do to make money online.
As my viewers started asking me questions, a natural business started to form where I could teach others the knowledge I have on various subjects. I'm so thrilled to be working in this capacity and to help others. I've been coaching women for several years as well, and it's an immensely fulfilling joy to help these woman overcome experiences in their life.
I'm also business consulting for acquisitions/dispositions of real estate and multi-family housing.
Lastly, some of my income – that you'll see below in the September 2018 income report – also comes from an e-book I wrote about five years ago that helps people overcome rosacea naturally. It's not generating much income right now since I haven't been focusing on marketing very much in the last couple of years. When I first wrote the book, it was generating about $200-$400 per month.
September 2018 Income Report
I've completed a breakdown by passive income and active income with totals for each. I knew my income would decrease this month with viewers vacations ending and kids back in school. September always seems to be one of those transition months for blogs, at least mine, where it slips a bit and then regains traction in the upcoming months.
Consulting/Coaching – $600 which I knew would decrease since the bulk of the work related to contracting for my previous employer is coming to an end.
Total September 2018 Income Report $947.60
My bottom line goal is to increase my passive income, month-over-month by approximately 16.25% and I did not meet that goal with an 11% decrease.
All of the income above is before expenses and taxes and represents my gross revenues.
Top Goals for October 2018
I'll also make sure to follow-up in the October income report with how I met my goals below:
Continue to reach viewers looking for an alternative lifestyle in minimalist living, traveling full-time, learning how to earn income on the road, and growing YouTube subscribers to 5,000+.
Begin the process of outlining a new product for sale to diversify my income.
Complete at least two extra videos to put in the queue for scheduling. I'm going to be busy in January and part of February with Xscapers convergences, meet-ups at RTR, and other meet-ups and need to have at least six videos ready to go. I don't think I'll be able to concentrate on editing and publishing during that time but will get quite a bit of footage.
Please leave me a comment below on how you liked this September 2018 income report. Was something missing or something you'd like to see?
The Southern Oregon Coast drive was a perfect end to the entire Oregon coast road trip that I started in the latter part of August and ended in September for a total of three weeks.
We experienced quite a bit of fog traveling through the southern region of Oregon, so it made for an exciting drive and magical pictures and footage for the video from Bandon to Brookings, Oregon.
The topography is also starting to look more and more like what I remember from California with fewer trees and more rocks. The trees along the coast have that heavy windblown look – you know the kind where the tops of the trees have been shaped by the wind and slant inland.
We had a leisurely drive for the rest of the trip – nothing overwhelming or significant – just beauty all around us and taking in the cool breezes and sun.
When Heather and Nick, from Vicaribus, and I left Bandon, Heather had the entire rest of the Southern coast planned out. You know me, I don't plan very well these days. I'm getting better, but she had found some great places along the way to visit, so Heather became my new travel planner for the day.
I followed them in their Vicaribus all the way to Brookings, stopping off at waysides, parks, beaches, and even a dinosaur park. The dinosaur park was pretty fun – I must admit – even though I was unsure of it. Heather gave me her disclaimers that it was a total tourist trap – yep – but it would be fun.
I thought it would be a park with dinosaur footprints – kind of a historical marker area – nope – fake dinosaurs spread amongst beautiful tall trees with some education mixed in between. It was a blast actually and so glad we stopped.
So while these weren't the real dinosaurs, it provided an enjoyable time, and I found a beautiful necklace in the gift shop with a tree pendant and a few tiny stones on one chain.
Port of Port Orford – Boat Haul Outs and the Beach
One of the first stops was at the Port of Port Orford to walk on the beach and watch boats hauled out of the water.
Miles and Lily ran like crazy after each other on the beach – flipping sand everywhere with tails wagging and ears flopping. What a life for a dog. Lily makes me so happy and to see her having fun too is even better. She and Miles became best buds during this trip.
Look how their legs are in unison!
It was quite interesting to see them haul out boats from below in the water. This crane would drop with a hook and then pull the boat up from out of the water. I couldn't tell how they hooked it to the boat though. All of those vertical black tubes are to protect the boat as it rises in the air.
Quest to Find an Overnight Spot Again
Today would be our last night in Southern Oregon, and we wanted to find a beautiful overlook off the ocean and beach.
Oregon, you didn't disappoint.
As I followed Vicaribus through the twisting turns that brought us from shore to inland, we stopped at waysides to soak up the beauty and the fog rolling in.
These rocky coves with colorful water and fog settling along the coast are breathtaking. I'm mesmerized by the beauty when I look at this picture – which looks like it was taken in Hawaii. Well, I think it does, but I haven't been to Hawaii – yet – so I'm only going off of pictures I've seen of Hawaii.
Finally, we found a place to park for the night. It was a very, very large overlook, well off the highway – which I like – and a trail down to the beach.
It was still early in the day when we arrived, and more people showed up to surf, take pictures, and hang out and talk with us. We met a guy who is from Ontario and had just made a trip up to Alaska in his truck and converted cargo trailer. He was traveling down the coast as well and then back up to Canada.
That's one of the joys of RVing full-time is meeting so many people on the road, and I get to hear their stories. Some are full-time some are just out for a quick adventure. Either way, I love being able to talk with them and share in the delight of travel and how it makes us all so happy.
It's a vast difference from my days of working in an office building or even working remotely in my home and doing the same thing day-after-day. I never know where this journey will lead or who it will bring into my life.
How do you like the hat? I think it works for its intended purpose. Somehow it brings me joy. I seem to smile bigger too! Lily looks a bit grumpy though.
Oregon Sky at Night
As the fog rolled away, the sky became black with night, and the moon was shining brightly. I stepped outside into the blackness to let Lily out for her last potty before bedtime only to shed a tear for the beauty in front of me.
I tried to get a picture, but iPhones don't work on capturing the night sky that well and my astrophotography is awful. I seriously need to learn this skill.
The sky was so clear, and you could see every star, including the Milky Way.
The moon was shining off of the water.
There was a slight breeze.
Stillness everywhere except for the ocean water crashing below.
I'm in awe of this moment. It felt incredible. Empowering. It's been a long time since I've seen the night sky like this off of the ocean where it's so clear.
It reminds me of being at my grandmother's house in West Texas (minus the ocean of course) as a little girl and laying down in the grass at night and gazing at the sky above. The town she lived in was so small and hardly any city lights so you could clearly see the stars.
I look back at those moments with fondness – like I am now in Oregon – in complete and utter gratitude.
Last Day on Oregon Coast
Today was a speedy trip from our perfect overnight spot, which, by the way, had 5 bars of AT&T cell signal. So this was a HUGE plus!
The fog and marine layer were incredibly thick this morning as we traveled to Brookings for the last leg of the Southern Oregon Coast road trip.
Haystack rocks loomed in the distance in ocean waters and the fog circled its peaks. The sun was trying to shine through, but the fog smothered it a bit in some areas.
After stopping at multiple waysides to gawk at the beauty and snap some pictures, I made it to Brookings, Oregon which wasn't such a great place to find free overnight camping.
It's a busy little town, and the one place that seems to be okay to park at overnight was the Fred Meyer grocery store, but it was incredibly busy and crowded, and I didn't feel like staying there.
So I opted to keep moving, saying bye to Vicaribus, and moving on towards Crescent City, California so I could make my way back inland to Eugene, Oregon.
We still had one more veterinarian appointment for Lily on her tail wound before we left the area.
Have you been to the Oregon coast? What are some recommendations for future travel on the coast?
While I loved the Northern Oregon Pacific Coast Highway quest drive, so far the Central Oregon Pacific Coast Highway road trip has been my favorite in Oregon that travels between Pacific City to Bandon. It's just different.
The topography is changing where there are more dunes, cliffs, and numerous places to boondock off of the highway with a prime ocean view.
Oh, and there are whales everywhere! I'm not joking. I've been whale watching before in the San Juan Islands in Washington and saw whales up close, but not in the numbers that I saw in Central Oregon.
After leaving Pacific City, I stopped along the beaches to soak up some sun rays every so often along the coast and walk the beaches. The weather was fantastic, around the mid-70s with a strong breeze.
I was meeting up with Heather and Nick again from Vicaribus, and we were trying to decide on a place to stop and overnight. We were both in Lincoln City doing a little shopping before continuing down the coast, but since I finished up early, I decided to keep going and scout out an overnight camping spot.
IOverlander app has quite a few great places for finding free spots to park or boondock – so I was using that to find some places, but since we knew we could park off of the ocean at an overlook, as long as it didn't have a sign stating “no overnight parking” than we could stay there.
The app showed that you could stay at Boiler Bay overlook; however, when I arrived it's part of the state park system is now only for day use. It would have been an amazing spot. Look at the scenery around that area.
Someone said they had spotted a whale, but I stayed there for about 30 minutes and never saw any.
Time to move on and keep searching.
Depoe Bay, Oregon Boondocking
I ended up finding a beautiful spot a little off the highway on this small road just off of Highway 101 that overlooked the ocean. It was just past Depoe Bay. Now, it could be subjective on whether this was allowed or not. Here's why.
When I first pulled in, I saw no signs whatsoever for no overnight parking. I swear I looked. So texted I Heather and Nick and told them of the spot and they proceeded to meet me there. However, as soon as they came in, they saw a sign further down that small road stating no overnighting. We weren't sure if that was for past that sign, because there were no signs on the way into that overlook nor inside the overlook.
So we collectively decided to risk it and stay. The worst that could happen is we get a knock on the door at night from a state trooper. That said, none of us like the idea of illegally parking and like to follow the rules and laws. This was just a bit of a gray area and it was getting late.
They pulled their converted skoolie bus into the spot below, and I parked in front of them for the night.
Look at this sunset! I was in awe. I had the van door wide open with the wind whipping around and letting that ocean breeze in.
What was truly amazing were the whales. I counted at least three whales at one time. Mostly I caught their tail and sometimes I could see their body as they blew through their blowhole and shot seawater up into the air. It was so amazing. I stood out there for at least two hours watching them.
It was great to chat with Heather and Nick in our respective vehicles while Heather popped us some fresh popcorn on her gas stove.
When it was finally time to go to sleep, the highway noise had quieted down a bit, and all you could hear was the wind blowing up against the RV (it was strong this night as well) and the ocean crashing against the rocks below.
Since this was my first night sleeping on a pull-out and because I was a little concerned we might get a knock on the door, I kept waking up to vehicles driving over to the other side of the overlook. I guess they thought it was okay to park there too. I could barely see anything though outside because it was so dark.
I, however, am in love. What a beautiful sight to fall asleep to and then to wake up to in the morning. It was so peaceful, and a truly beautiful moment I'll never forget.
The Internet wasn't so great in that location, and I desperately needed to upload a video to YouTube, so I ended up leaving earlier that morning to find a great spot to work for the day. I typically am looking for something in nature, so when I take breaks, I can get out and walk in around the trees, grass, and beaches.
Yaquina Lighthouse & Whale Watching
I didn't have to drive long before I spotted a lighthouse just north of Newport, so I pulled in to see how good the cell signal was for that area. It turned out to have a great cell signal and was on top of a cliff looking over onto the ocean, rock formations, tidepools, and WHALES!
The Yaquina lighthouse is listed on BLM so all you need is an America the Beautiful annual pass (the National Park pass) to get in for free or it's $7 per day at the time of this posting.
I was so distracted by the beauty and the whales that it was an hour later before I started working and loading the YouTube video.
Just off of this area, were whales swimming in between the rocks. I presume they were fishing for food as you would see them dive under and also blow out through their blowhole.
These creatures are so beautiful to watch. Even though you aren't that close to them, it's still mesmerizing! If you watch my video on it, I actually catch them in action many times.
Later in the afternoon when I was wrapping up my work, I needed to stop for groceries, so I scouted out the local Fred Meyer grocery store. If you've never been to a Fred Meyer, it's a cross between a grocery store and a Target with great prices on clothes, especially the name brand stuff, kitchen, housewares, and more. Plus they have a huge section for natural foods and organics which I love.
This Fred Meyer was crazy big. It was actually two stories tall with an elevator to the second floor. I had to actually shoot some small video footage of it for Nick since he hadn't been to a Fred Meyer yet.
It was time to scout out another spot for the night. Nick and Heather were doing their own sightseeing, and we thought we would find a place at Cape Perpetua for the night in an overlook. They had already gone ahead and were looking for a place to stay while I finished grocery shopping.
While there were some incredible overlooks to stay at, the cell signal was nonexistent on both Verizon and AT&T, and we both needed to work. I, however, didn't realize they had turned around and gone back to Yachats, the town before Cape Perpetua, until after I traveled all the way to Florence where the next cell signal came through on my phone. Well just before Florence.
Boondocking in Florence, Oregon
So I ended up in Florence on my own and found a couple of pull-offs that were beautiful and overlooked the dunes, but as you can see below, the pull-off is on a steep incline, and I was not level by a longshot! Usually, I don't mind a little bit of unlevel, but this was pretty bad on the inside of the van.
So, therefore, I continued and found this boondocking spot off of the Siuslaw River that is just on the other side of the dune jetty and the ocean. If the dunes weren't so high, I should have been able to see the ocean.
The spot was actually really beautiful off of the river where people fished, and kayakers paddled along the river. It's directly off of a small road so there was some road noise but it got quieter as the night went on.
I ended up staying off of the river for several days collectively; however Lily had an emergency.
Lily's Vet Emergency
That night I saw Lily holding her tail weird and by weird I mean if it touched anything she would jump. I had seen her jumping like this when we were on the beach a couple of times in the last several days and had inspected her legs and body to make sure she was okay and didn't see anything; however, I didn't look at her tail tip.
On closer inspection, her tail tip looks raw. It was this black and reddish color with a small wound at the end. I have no idea how this happened to her, but she was in severe pain. I tried putting a pain reliever/antiseptic ointment on her, but she freaked out.
So after some searching for a vet in Florence, I thought it best to drive over to Eugene, Oregon inland to get her looked at first thing in the morning. I found a VCA Hospital and showed up when they opened. Even though they didn't accept walk-ins at this location, they still helped me out and looked her over.
We weren't sure if it was an allergy related issue or what was going on, but the vet seemed to think it might heal itself with an antifungal medication, some Omega fatty acid treatments, and another allergy shot in case it was related to allergy.
They ended up having to shave her tail to get a better look, and she completely freaked out in pain. It hurts my heart to see her go through this issue. So we'll come back in several more weeks after we finish the Oregon coastline and do a follow-up visit with the doctor to make sure she's improving.
Bullards Beach State Park Camping
After leaving the vet and heading back to Florence for a couple of more days, we all decided to head to Bullard's Beach State Park for a couple of days to recharge, take some much needed hot showers and relax.
The showers, on the other hand, were – meh – not so great. First, I'm short at 5'3, or 5'2 depending on the day you measure me, and I had to bend down to get my head under the shower nozzle. Also, it was an auto shut off push button shower, and the water was sometimes hot and sometimes barely hot. It wasn't the greatest shower experience, but at least I was clean and felt refreshed.
Face Rock State Scenic View Point
Not too much further down from the state park is Face Rock State scenic viewpoint in Bandon, Oregon – which is also the end of the Central Oregon Pacific Coast Highway quest.
What a treat! Heather was our tour guide on this day as she had researched all the places to go along the way. If you look at the picture below you'll see the massive rock in the front, but just to the right you'll see another rock structure and on the right side of that rock is a profile of a face. Do you see it?
We were treated with this magnificent labyrinth that a local artist had created on the beach that morning. It made the day even more spectacular!
I absolutely loved my road trip down the Central Oregon Coast, and only one more section, the Southern Oregon Coast road trip that will take place just after this one ends in Bandon, Oregon.
Have you traveled to the Oregon Coast? Did you do any boondocking for free off of the ocean?
Weather Conditions: Pretty chilly at night with quite a bit of wind off of the ocean, but during the day it was in the 70's. My kind of weather.
Time of Year Visited: Early September
Overnights & Places Visited
Overlook off of highway 101 Depoe Bay, Oregon / $0
Boondocking off of Siuslaw River in Florence, Oregon / $0
Camping World in Eugene, Oregon (during Lily's emergency) / $0
Walmart – Coos Bay, Oregon / $0
Bullards Beach State Park in Bandon, Oregon / $31 per night for 2 nights
Yaquina Lighthouse / $0 with America the Beautiful annual pass
Pacific City, Oregon beaches
Lincoln City, Oregon beaches
Depoe Bay, Oregon
You can be in any RV at most of these locations and in all the overlooks. The only exception would be the river boondocking possibly. Vicaribus parked there without any issues; however it is close to the road so I would be concerned about an RV being too wide and parking there.
Cell Phone Signal Strength: Decent cell signal in most areas except Cape Perpetua where there wasn't a cell signal at all. AT&T was stronger than Verizon and you'll definitely need a cell booster, like the weBoost that I use, to get a better signal if you'll be working or watching movies.